This mornings’ Advertiser heralds the imminent startup of Lafayette’s fiber-optic network with an editorial that promotes the economic benefits of technological leadership:
We believe LUS Fiber will mean more good-paying jobs and a better quality of life for the people of Lafayette. The availability of advanced, affordable telecommunications services to assure the ultimate efficiency in the transfer of information will be a priority of businesses looking for places to locate or expand operations.
…We have no doubt that LUS can stay abreast of technology. Lafayette has experts in all phases of telecommunications technology. There is a rich field from which to draw.
The plan is seen by national publications such as USA Today as a visionary, pioneering step toward a place of leadership in the global economy.
While generating revenue is essential to paying off the bonds and keeping up with constantly changing technology, revenue is not the basic goal. Competition will result in better rates, but as desirable as that is, it is still not the focal point of the Durel administration’s vision. The vision is one of technological leadership that will result in powerful economic growth.
That’s what the Durel administration and, by implication, the Advertiser find most valuable about the project. And there is no doubt that the promise of clean, high-tech growth responds to realistic anxieties coming from the great oil bust of the ’80s that seriously undermined the city’s natural sunny confidence.
But to my mind the real benefit is more basic and has even broader consequences: Lafayette can now control its own future in one additional and increasingly important area: Communications. This generation of citizens has made the gift of an extra few degrees of freedom and responsibility to the future. It is what we do with that Freedom and Responsibility that should now occupy us.