WBS: The Path to Leadership

What’s Being Said Dept.

They’re talking about Lafayette’s network in New Zealand. Or at least David Isenberg is. David visited recently and I am embarrassed to admit I haven’t written about it. (Yet. I will.) I’ve written about Isenberg & the Internet and his F2C conference here before. For now let it suffice to say that he has the sort of stature in the field that people happily fly him across the globe in order to get his advice on what should come next in telecommunications policy. (For a well-written overview of the man, and a review of his speech hit the NZHerald.)

He went to New Zealand intending, apparently, to walk the Kiwis through a path toward internet leadership that included fare like “structural separation,” and “unbundling local loops.” But he ditched that complex policy message and decided that the real message should be:

let’s face it, fiber, the all-optical network, is the end game.”

His recommendation to New Zealand: Just go for it. And he thinks its pretty reasonable financially. He uses Vermont’s rural and Lafayette’s urban networks to run up an estimate for the cost of fibering up the whole nation. Here’s what he said about Lafayette:

“In town, it costs a lot less. I visited Lafayette LA two weeks ago. Lafayette is a city of 110,000, or about 40,000 households. They’re building a municipal fiber network to every house in the city, rich and poor, black and white, for about 300 million, or about $2000 a house at a 50% take-rate. If you factor in OPEX and everything else, their cost will be about $50 a month. They plan to charge $70, for TV, telephone and 100 Mbit/s Internet.”

I think several of those numbers are off but the basic point remains true: It’s not too costly for a determined community. And Isenberg’s advice to the nation of New Zealand is to follow Lafayette’s lead in building fiber to every home.

That’s what I call good press. And sensible advice.

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