LUS to hold public forums

It’s been confirmed: LUS has issued an official press release announcing it will hold at least one public forum to solicit input from citizens about the sorts of services that they would like to see.

Thursday, March 8, 2007,
at 5:30 p.m.
in the first-floor atrium of City Hall,
705 West University Avenue.

This is a great thing–and LUS/LCG’s willingness not actually engage the public is a good indication of the basic difference between the public utility system that LUS will operate and the privately-owned competition: Cox and AT&T/BS will not be coming to you to ask you what you want. They are interested only in what you can be convinced to buy. The difference is not subtle.

One of the best things about the announcement is that we finally get more details on upcoming plans. We’ve been in a long, far too long, confrontational period that caused our leaders to be closed-mouthed (and the community to be tolerant of that). While arguably smart strategically it was almost certainly unwise socially: It’s hard to get a community excited about a system the when nobody is willing to to utter the exciting details in public. Those days, hopefully, are over though old habits die hard. Durel says:

“Finally we can get down to the specifics of what features the LUS Fiber system will have and what residents can expect in the next 18 months as the Fiber-to-the-Home system gets up and running,”

That’s good to hear…I really want to hear those details. But more than that: LUS also wants input on what we want to do with the network. They want us, indeed, need for us, to dream about what the community can do with that much capacity. Knowing the capacities of the system will be a big chunk of what inspires ideas about what you can do with them. Says LUS director Huval:

“Now the fiber vision can become a reality. The people of Lafayette will own and operate this system and we are looking to them to help us prioritize what services will be offered,” added Terry Huval, LUS director…

“We hope that residents will join us for a productive discussion that will help us plan the fiber network they want.”

That’s careful language from a careful man. The sentiment, though, is genuine–and not particularly saccharine. Lafayette is stepping out into the unknown. We’ll be offering the standard services that standard networks can offer: cable TV, phone, and internet.

But we won’t have a standard network: we’ll have one of the fastest and most flexible networks in the country. We’ll be able to do more things at once and do them faster than elsewhere. With room to spare we can try things that there just isn’t room for elsewhere. Applications that wouldn’t be practical over standard networks will be useful here. The point is this: if our network is to be fully utilized WE will have to figure out, and get comfortable with, and USE the more exciting services. We simply won’t be able to follow the leader there.

We are the leaders.

So it’s important, and not just a pleasant sentiment, to ask us what we want to do with the network–the ultimate success of the system we have fought for and won depends, in the end, upon our imagination and our ability to figure out new ways to fully utilize it.

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