Alert: Huval to answer questions Wednesday (updated)

Alert: LUS Direct Terry Huval will answer questions in a live chat at the Advertiser’s on-line forum tomorrow evening. Take note, those of you who’ve asked questions in the comments section of this blog: you can get your answers straight from the horse’s mouth.


Where: online @ Access Page
When: Wednesday, 1/14/08 starting at 6:00 PM
Mode: “Live Chat”

Huval has already been doing a great job of modeling how a really open and responsive community-owned telecom would act in the comments section of the Advertiser. He’s come on and answered questions from everyone—for pages and pages. (See, for instance: Announcement story, Advertiser Digest.) I’ve been gratified by the generally respectful tone of the commentors there; it’s a noticeable contrast to the ugly, uninformed approach that too often dominates in that and other anonymous forums. (The fact that Terry is speaking without the “protection” of anonymity seems to help. I recommend that participants who want to be taken seriously follow suit.)

Kudos to the Advertiser and Bill Decker. These Q&A sessions are proving useful to the community.

Update: 1/14/09: I just went to the access page and found an interesting and I think encouraging set of rules about the Advertiser’s “Live Chats.”

  • There’s nothing to do during a Live Blog other than read, watch and occasionally send in a comment or vote in the polling questions.
  • It’s not a chatroom. You go to largely find out what the writer has to say. An open chat with thirty or more readers turns into poor, disjointed content very quickly.
  • Your comments are published at the Writer’s discretion. The Writer can view all comments sent to them but only they can publish your comments for everyone to see.
  • Our ‘autoscroll’ feature ensures you’re always shown the newest content without having to refresh or scroll your screen. You can turn this on or off by using the controls at the bottom of the Live Blog.
  • Subtle sound effects alert you to new content as the writer publishes it. This can also be turned on or off as needed

Nice; particularly the “It’s not a chatroom” caveat. The Advertiser has already taken care of much of my concerns. The net evolves.

Tipitina’s Comes to Lafayette

Well, Tipitina’s music coop, anyway— 😉

This seems a month of wishes fulfilled for me. I’m eagerly awaiting the launch of the LUS Fiber network–that’s huge–but now Tipitina’s music coop is opening in Lafayette.

The basic idea is to provide well-appointed space and tools (musical, computer, and business) to aspiring musical artists. It appears to be mostly grant supported with a fairly nominal fee for coop membership.

Back in June I read a story in The Advocate about Tipitina’s Coop in other cities in Louisiana and wrote a bit on how it, coupled with AOC’s new ACFM, would give Lafayette some nice, commons-based media arts infrastructure. Suffice it to say now that its coming to Lafayette is a very welcome development.

Links to the Indepenndent’s story on the launch and to the Advocate’s.

Tipitina’s Foundaton, Lafayette’s coop facebook page.

Good things happening….

We’re On the Map…Sorta


Well we’re on the map over at the New York Times. Or at least LONI, the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative, is.

And a mighty strange map it is. Check out the lower left hand corner for #77

(Getting technical, and since we’re talking about supercomputers how can you not be technical, the “computer” they’re talking about in the list from which the above referenced map is drawn is the 35 teraflop “Queen Bee” (LONI says 50.7 but now we’re picking nits) a node in the LONI grid that is ‘sposed to be an 85 teraflop machine in its own right. The Queen Bee herself is technically in Baton Rouge but is named after a Lafayette resident. It used to be number #23 on the list back in the glory days.)

LUS Announces Installation Policies

The final segment of Terry Huval’s presentation at last night’s Council meeting focused on the actual installation. That provided a comforting bit of solidity to the proceedings.

When fiber is available in your area during the “controlled rollout” you’ll be notified via a distinctive mailer. (See scan @ right.) You’ll want to quickly call up the number on the notification card and ask for service. Installation takes place in two visits: an exterior and an interior visit. The exterior visit gets the cable from the street to your house near the electric meter where a box not much larger than the meter will receive the fiber and reroute the signal to your TV, computer, and/or phone. Another small box containing a backup battery will also be installed. Huval showed a mockup of the arangement during his presentation. That’s the meter to the left, the new ONT (optical network terminal) at the upper right, and the battery pack in the lower left of the accompanying picture gleaned from the video stream at UStreams. (click either image for a larger—though not necessarily clearer—version.)

In the simplest of cases, where you’re just replicating the existing phone and analog cable services, the coax will be attached to the new LUS box and off you’ll go. Most installations, however will require an interior visit. If you’ve purchased digital cable or internet services LUS will have to come back and do an interior install. Digital cable will require a set top box and internet will require at least one cat5 or cat6 cable drop to carry the ethernet/internet signal that emerges from the box on the exterior wall. That old modem that you generally rented from the cable company won’t be necessary. An ethernet cable carry internet signal emerged from that old modem and plugged into your local computer, wifi, or router. The new ethernet cable from LUS will plug in to the same device without an intervening modem (or its expense). All that will be free. But if you want a full ethernet network installed or multiple new coax wiring for TVs there will be a fee schedule.

LUS Announces Pricing at the Council Meeting

Terry Huval made another appearance during the “President’s Address” portion of last night’s council meeting. In this one he provided more details on pricing and installation….

My trusty TiVo picked up the broadcast; it will be rebroadcast by AOC on Channel 16 Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1:00 p.m. It is also available anytime on the newly established ustream channel “lcg-council-auditorium.”

If your interested in the details (and who isn’t?) I recommend you take a look at Huval’s presentation. It’s well-organized and packs a lot of information into a small time frame. You can also check out the press release at the LUS Fiber site and pages there on video, phone and internet pricing.

Some highlights & notes of interest:

  1. There will be “no deposit, no contracts, and no charge for a standard installation.”
  2. There will be some very low prices for some cable services—lower than had been previously anounced. The basic, no-box “analog,” tier will only cost $17:00 and includes “20 channels including local channels and The Weather Channel.” (Interestingly the “analog” channels on the local system are analog largely in the sense that they don’t require a set top box: the system itself is all IP. Customers who don’t want a box and have an analog TV will have their digital signals transformed into coaxial-happy analog at the fancy box on the exterior wall.)
  3. That low price, and other low prices for local phone service and internet will be mitigated by a minimum required purchase of $44 dollars. No customer will be signed up unless they initially agree to purchase $44 dollars worth of service. That’s a marketing mistake, I believe. You want everyone to sign up, even if they are low-return initally. Of course, without a contract I don’t know what is to prevent a frugal customer from signing up, paying for one month and dropping any extra services. Frankly, I don’t see the point of this requirement. Without a contract it won’t prevent folks from doing the obvious; will give the naysayers something pretty concrete to complain about; and will be used to by the opposition to undercut the city’s otherwise legitimate claim to be lowering prices and offering poor and working people a break. (This isn’t conjecture on my part—that was the response of the incumbents to a similar condition to join Bristol VA’s municipal system.) [Yes, sure, I do understand the rationale: that fancy box on the side of the house that translates light into analog and digital cable over coax, internet over cat6, and emulates a Plain Old Telephone system is very costly…and LUS reasonably wants to recover that cost in some reasonable period. Still; IMHO, dangling unattainable low prices in front of the public is a mistake that only accountants and engineers would make. It’s logical and sensible but mistaken. Where are the political, PR, and marketing folks? LUS needs a citizen’s advisory council.]
  4. The internet service will include email, 70 megs of personal web space, Instant Messaging, personal calendaring and file sharing….pretty nifty. Making those service available universally will potentially open up a huge range of network effects akin to having universal phone service. All these are more valuable if all have them.
  5. It looks like only HD digital boxes will be deployed, some with and some without DVR capacity but all with HD. Planning for the future, I presume.
  6. There will be “an interactive TV Web Portal, Video On Demand, Pay-Per-View and Digital Video Recording.” I’m still interested in that TV Web Portal.

Still missing: a channel lineup, details on the premium channel packages and any wireless hints.

PS: The Advertiser has a short piece up this evening. Expect a fuller story tomorrow and one from the Advocate as well.

LUS Fiber Email #2


LUS Fiber sent out its second email today with links to a fuller, but not yet complete, account of its pricing plans. To wit:

Welcome to your future!

On January 6, 2009 LUS Fiber unveiled information regarding our full suite of residential TV/Video, Internet and Phone products and pricing. We wanted to share this ground-breaking information with you. We invite you to visit our website and view all of our feature-rich residential offerings. This way when you have access to LUS Fiber services (via Lafayette‚s only 100% fiber optic network) you will know whether you would like to select one of our conveniently packaged VIP (Video, Internet and Phone) Bundles or build your own to meet your specific needs. Our pricing philosophy is simple…savings for all customers on all products.

Visit our website to view details regarding our residential products which include:

TV/Video offerings to meet your entertainment needs including digital services like a unique TV Web Portal, Digital Video Recording, Video On Demand, Pay-Per-View, and an Electronic Program Guide.

Internet speeds that are lightning-fast (up to 50 Mbps upload & download!) and features that keep you connected including access to our 100 Mbps Peer-to-Peer Community Intranet; up to 7 email accounts; webmail access with personal calendaring, IM capabilities and file sharing; 70 MB of personal web space; and a security suite with virus protection, spam filter, pop-up blocker and more.

Phone service that brings value back to your home phone including a wide array of features like 3-Way Calling, Voicemail and Caller ID; unlimited long distance calling plan; and budget-friendly International long distance rates like 5¢ per minute to places like France, Spain and Canada.

Beginning this month we will be notifying customers through mail when service is available to them and we are ready to take their order. If you would like to speak with someone on the LUS Fiber team regarding our products and pricing or want to sign up for updates, call us at 99-FIBER (993-4237) or visit our website at

Your LUS Fiber Team

LUS Fiber News Flyer

The Google Internet Machine this morning dredged up what looks to be a promo flyer from LUS Fiber. Since it is not officially released (to my knowledge) it can’t be taken as a promise. But, on the other hand, LUS paid somebody to lay this out professionally so I’m guessing that it represents an honest intention (click the image for a readable image-based version or go for the pdf :

It touts the top 5 reasons to switch:

  1. prices
  2. innovation
  3. customer service
  4. local folks
  5. economic development

The flyer offers details on the service, most familiar but some interestingly specified. For instance HD, Video On Demand (VOD), Pay Per View, and Digital Video recording will apparently all be part of the initial launch. Most innovative is the “Interactive TV Web Portal.” What that, precisely, might be is unclear. It could range from a broad, net-based, google widget-like interface to something more narrowly tied to the IPTV box and its interface. I’ve advocated the former (related) and suspect the latter as this feature is included in the “TV” rather than “internet” box. Remember back in the day when the coming thing was going to be “interactive TV?” Then the web happened. It’ll be fascinating to see how this version works.

The internet portion of the page focuses on the breath-taking speed—both to the internet and within our unique intranet. LUS Fiber will also promote a competitive array of email addresses, online storage, webmail access, and personal webspace. I, like Mike, have been bumping up against bandwidth constraints recently and I am looking forward to LUS’ speeds.

All in all an interesting peek into the near future.

How My Internet Connection Spent New Year’s Eve — Or, Please Hurry LUS!!!

I recently shot some video for some friends of mine in a band when they played at the Blue Moon Saloon. It’s going to be released as a DVD in the next month or so.

The band members are scattered across the South but I wanted to let them see the near final cut of the video. I saved it as a Quicktime movie in a small (480 x 270 pixels) widescreen format and it came in at a grand total of 1.69 gigabytes. Too big to send via conventional email.

I tried Pando (a service a friend in New Orleans and I had used to exchange video) but that service has a 1 gig file size limit.

Googling around, I found which has a 2 gig file size limit. Ah, we’re good to go.

So, I signed up, linked to the file and began sending it.

There is a handy/scary network speedometer on the upload page. I finally got that baby up to 104 kbps via my Cox Internet connection. But what was really scary was the “Time Remaining” figure: four hours and fifty-plus minutes!

Well, it was what it was, so I went to read a couple of things on my laptop while the iMac, Cox and Filemail did their thing.

A couple of hours later, I returned to the iMac only to find an error message!

Not knowing the source of the error, I decided to try to FTP the file to a domain that I own. FTP is supposed to be pretty fast (faster than email, any way). But, looking at the progress dial on Fetch, it was clear that this process would take about five hours at the connection speed I was able to achieve.

Sure enough, five hours later, the file was on the website. I linked to it and it began to play.

Still, knowing that video over the Internet is network speed sensitive, I went back to Filemail to see if I could successfully send the file so that the band members could download it onto their respective desktops and get a better playback experience.

I figured out that the original problem had been that my hard drive had ‘gone to sleep’ in the initial transfer process — and who wouldn’t after three or four hours? 😉

So, I resent my system preferences to keep the hard-drive ‘awake’ no matter how long the transfer took.

Sent the file again and — again — delivery time was going to be about five hours.

This time, the process was completed without a glitch.

But, using that great Cox fiber to the neighborhood network with the asymmetrical upload and download speeds, I spent at least 12 hours of time moving a 1.69 gigabyte file to a mail service and/or a website for viewing.

I am happy to see that LUS has announced their pricing on packages and I’m thrilled about the network speeds. But, they can’t get here soon enough as far as I’m concerned.

I’m tired of the giant sucking sound Cox’s network is making in my wallet and with their underperforming network.