TechSouth 2007

TechSouth starts next Tuesday in Lafayette’s Cajundome Convention center. It’s one of the premier tech conferences in the South and this year’s lineup is no exception. If you’ve got an interest in technology–either from a business or an enthusiast perspective–going for TechSouth’s quick, FREE pre-registration is a no-brainer for locals. You’ll be treated to a set of resources unavailable in most of the country and certainly rarely free.

There’s the usual variety of exhibitors, seminars, and interesting keynotes (The ever-popular CTI of SGI makes a return appearance at the sold-out luncheon but you can still sit in on the presentation sans food.) If you scan the lists of events (especially the seminars) you’ll be able to pick out the ones that suit your personal or organizational interests.

Of course readers of this blog will have a special interest in matters relating to Lafayette’s new broadband systems. I say systems because it has become a quietly accepted assumption that a municipal wifi system will be coupled to our fiber to the home network. So now we’ve got two leading-edge technologies to watch–and TechSouth is a great place to finger the goods.

The exhibit hall is where you’ll find the fiber-related stuff. LUS has taken up a suite of four booths. Go and get your info from the horses mouth; the engineers that will be running the project will be on on hand. Wave7, a major fiber player, has a booth. But fiberistas should also make their way to local Abacus (home of fiberina), the Motorola booth for its fiber products, and, if sufficiently hard-core, Cisco’s.

On the wifi end you’ll notice a wealth of exhibitors. Tropos is the most obvious–LUS’ RFP has made Tropos equipment the standard by which they will measure other equipment. So go take a look at their latest and greatest; you’ll see it, or something like it, going up on polls here. Nortel has a muni wireless division. Motorola has wide-area wireless as well. But the wifi moment of note will be the two morning seminars (8:45!):

  1. Municipal Mesh Wireless Networks: Practical considerations when building large public wireless networks. Presented By: CISCO and
  2. Municipal Wireless Broadband Technologies. Enabling the entire solution to provide a network that works for you. Presented by: Nortel

Lagniappe of possible interest: LATG out of New Orleans is a Sun partner that appears to specialize in governmental contracting…readers may recall the early-in-the-fiber-fight discussions with Sun — Joey Durel had Sun CEO Scott McNealy on his radio show discussing the possibilities of using Sun terminals hooked up to high-speed fiber for really low cost computing. (Don’t recall? Try: (1,2)) I know some folks are still enamored of the idea and it would be one way to attack digital divide issues. So it’s interesting to see LATG make an appearance across the basin.

Roasting AT&T’s Whitacre

The editor in chief of Light Reading, one of the most arcanely technical sites on the web, takes time out to lambast Ed Whitacre. It’s interesting precisely because it is so striking a departure from the site’s normal tone and focus.

I saw what AT&T (nee SBC) did up in the Tri-Cities of Illinois and I watched Whitacre single-handedly create the net neutrality dustup that came back to bite AT&T so completely. If that were not enough, I still can’t believe that AT&T, now the worlds largest Telecom, doesn’t have the guts to go for the FTTH solution that even tiny Kaplan Telephone understands is necessary for it (and the community it serves’) future. Whitacre has been enormously bad for his customers and their communities–I don’t think that can be disputed.

But I had bought the idea that he was good–in a narrow, shortsighted, destructive sort of way, for the company and its short-term profit and shareholder returns.

Apparently not. In a letter addressed to Whitacre about his retirement package:

What kind of risks and innovation has SBC/AT&T taken recently? It’s built a watered-down fiber-to-the-curb network that’s dwarfed by many fiber projects worldwide. You are now the largest telecom incumbent operator on the planet, yet you’re taking fewer risks than just about anybody. Less risk, higher pay. Not a bad deal if you can get it.

Perhaps the generous compensation package is in appreciation of all the fine lobbying efforts your team has conducted in Washington to preserve the incumbent footprint and defend yourself against innovation. If that is indeed the rationale for your pay package, then you deserve it. AT&T has shown true excellence in lobbying. Your team knows how to preserve the system.

Here’s what I really think of this pay package: It’s a farce. It’s a symbol that the pure arrogance and imperial management style of incumbent telcos is here to say. It’s proof that your company is focused more on maintaining the status quo and maximizing executive pay, than on innovation and the creation of shareholder value.

Click on over and get the gory details.

Lafayette in Top Ten

Recent articles in both the Advertiser and the Advocate cheered on Lafayette’s selection as one of the top 10 places in the South for the creative class and we discussed it here as well. But at the time of all the hoopla the article itself wasn’t online and my bookseller doesn’t carry Southern Business & Development. 😉 Hence folks haven’t read the article. It is now available online and you can look at how Lafayette compares to Austin, Raleigh, and Atlanta for yourself.

The part locals will be interested in:

Lafayette, La.
Lafayette keeps stride with the larger metros with the kind of cultural diversity and forward thinking that sets this creative city and parish apart. With a rich French heritage blended with Spanish, American, Indian and African influences, Lafayette represents a colorful combination of lifestyles. Locals still exhibit proudly a “wildcatter mentality” founded on risk taking and entrepreneurial spirit. An example is the city’s “Fiber to the Premises Initiative,” designed to make state-of-the-art communications and technology available to every household in the area. The University of Louisiana Lafayette is the only institution in the UL System to be classified as a Research University with High Research Activity by The Carnegie Foundation. In May 2007, Lafayette will host the fourth TechSouth Annual Summit and Exposition, designed to bring IT leaders and users together in a setting specifically created for knowledge sharing and networking.

LUS at TechSouth

Heads up:

TechSouth sent out an email blast with nothing in it but the following LUS teaser:

(click for a larger image)

LUS and TechSouth are promoting LUS’ booth as a place to find out more about the fiber to the home project.

If you’ve got an interest (and who reading this blog doesn’t) you’d be well-served to visit LUS at TechSouth; it’s always interesting. Last year they quietly announced in a looping slide show what has turned out to be a cornerstone of the project: full peer-to-peer bandwidth between subscribers; aka intranet speeds. That item, which means that every subscriber will be able to communicate with every other subscriber at the full available speed of the intranet, is a huge plus for both the digital divide and the entrepreneurial hopes for the local project.

Expect to be able to glean interesting details by talking directly to the folks who’ll be running the project.

Oh, and hey: TechSouth is worth visiting for a myriad of other reasons. It’s about time for a post…..

Lagniappe: Bop on over to the TechSouth site and scroll to the bottom. There you’ll find an unexpected sight: LUS, Cox, and AT&T all lined up, and sharing a common banner… 🙂