Set Top Box Follies: More

I posted earlier on the predictable objections of Cox to LUS’ request for a waiver of FCC regulations that have been waved for everyone else for a long time. I complained that LUS wasn’t being treated fairly and suggested that LUS’ competition and the innovative services it has already offered are just what the FCC has been saying it wanted to accomplish through its regulation.

I’ve snagged Jim Baller’s reply to Cox and the Consumer Electronics Association‘s objections to LUS’ waiver request. (And I am still trying to track down the initial petition and Cox’s written objections, just for the record…if any of you see a copy floating past or know how to burrow at the FCC better than I please drop a line.) —see post script.

Baller does a great job of laying out his points clearly and tightly—it’s easy to see why he has such a good reputation. Here’s an argument extracted from his reply to comments in the case (all emphases mine):

In January 2009, LUS launched a multichannel video programming service over this system, designed from the ground up to operate on LUS’s advanced FTTH network. The LUS video service – offered in direct competition to Cox Communications’ cable service in Lafayette – includes a full lineup of basic, expanded basic, and premium programming in digital form through LUS’s IPTV system…

Cox seeks to thwart or delay this competition by urging the Commission to deny LUS a waiver….

Baller reviews the history in which all the market segments have been granted repeated time extensions and finally unlimited waviers.

By its present petition, LUS requests a waiver similar to those which the Commission has already issued for similarly-situated IPTV system operators. While the Commission’s prior orders included various complex considerations relating to the DTV transition and other matters (addressed in LUS’s petition and below in response to Cox’s comments), the issue in this case is simple and straightforward: LUS would sincerely like to comply with Section 1204(a), but having performed a diligent search, it has been unable to find commercially available navigation devices that would enable it to do so. In other cases in which this has been true, the Commission has granted the MVPDs in question waivers from its rules. LUS merely asks for similar treatment, until such time as commercially available devices are readily available…

Baller points out that LUS’ request can be granted based on different sources of regulatory authority and that in one —

Under Section 629(c), the Commission “shall” issue a waiver from the integration ban “upon an appropriate showing by a provider of multichannel video programming and other services offered over multichannel video programming systems … that such waiver is necessary to assist the development or introduction of a new or improved multichannel video programming or other service offered over multichannel video programming systems, technology, or products….”

Under Section 629(c), “waivers of [the integration ban] are granted when doing so ‘is necessary to assist the development or introduction of a new or improved’ service, such as, for example, a nascent MVPD offering from a new competitor.”

Congress could not have intended that the FCC derail state-of-the-art projects like Lafayette’s by imposing standards that are technologically impossible to meet. For that simple reason alone, a waiver under the Commission’s general waiver authority is appropriate.

I’m enough of a policy nerd to actually enjoy reading such a nicely crafted piece and if you have any such unsavory tendencies I recommend you click through and read the entire thing. If you do you’ll find a few nice hooks left in the text for LUS to pull tight if circumstance warrants. For instance when Cox requests that it be granted a similar waver if the FCC grants one to LUS, Baller replies:

Cox claims that it is already complying with the integration ban. If that is true, then it presumably does not need a waiver, and there is no factual basis for the Commission to grant one.

Of course Cox is not really complying with the law now and there is substantial reason to believe that an FCC dominated by Democrats will be tempted to recognize that and act forcefully on it….leaving Cox to worry that its latest promise to bring its technologies up to date so that its navigation technology will actually be separable from its legitimate security issues won’t work again this time if the issue is opened up before the commission. In the unlikely event that LUS is denied its waiver the tables would be turned and LUS would be in the best possible position to turn the tables and assert that a level playing field required that the FCC force Cox in full and complete compliance immediately. In that case making the open claim that it doesn’t need a waiver opens up the possibility that LUS — or other competitors — will call its bluff. There’s a little of the old “make my day” threat lying just under the surface. I can feel the chest-thumping silverback lying just under the surface of the measured writing and I have to admit that I like it.

A final caveat: Cox apparently argues that only fully digital systems qualify for a waiver. While my inner policy nerd is happy, the geek side evoked by Cox’s silly claim that LUS’ service isn’t all digital wants to point out that LUS is actually providing a fully digital service to every household that buys its service—but that some people choose to have the digital signal transformed (digitally! :-)) into an analog format for use with older equipment. Technically that is exactly what happens. That little twist, on my account, is a nifty bit of digital innovation…and the tongue isn’t pressing too hard against the cheek when I say it. LUS’s system is all-digital already and they’ve creatively found a way to comply with the integration ban for those tiers of service that are sold for use without any set top box or with a DVR, like a TiVo, that the consumer is allowed to buy and freely use as their own navigation tool separate from LUS’…they’ve already gone the extra mile. I’d also lean harder on LUS’ actual innovations, like the 100 megs of internal bandwidth and, especially the internet via the IP set top box that couldn’t be practically accomplished without the box for which the FCC is being urged to deny a waver. But, I suppose the policy nerd that insists on sticking to the central point and dismissing silly claims about digital as the distractions that Cox clearly hopes they will be is right. Don’t muddy the waters or help your opponent do so. But….the FCC might find the truth of Lafayette’s all-digital network compelling policy arguments if they take Cox’s bit of misdirection seriously and the details of innovations that would be harmed by the denial of a waver could only strengthen that part of the argument.

PS—As we came into New Orleans but before I found the signal I could use to post this I got a set of useful links requested of Jim Baller: the original petition, both Cox and the CEA’s objections, and LUS’ response. The obsessive among you might want to peruse them too. As will I if I ever get a reliable signal.

  • (LUS Petition)
  • (Cox Opposition)
  • (CEA Comment)
  • (LUS Reply)

Set Top Box Follies: Cox and LUS

The executive summary: Cox is acting like Cox.

The short version: LUS has asked for an exemption from an FCC rule mandating the use of cable cards in set top boxes. Cox, joined by the Consumer Electronics Association, objects.

The essence: Cox would like to throw a kink, into, to again delay if possible (or to impose additional costs on LUS if it is not) Lafayette’s FTTH project by using the FCC to force LUS to deploy technology that doesn’t exist. It seems, I suppose, like an clever way to try and use the feds to cause trouble for a competitor. The bitter irony is that the technology doesn’t exist largely because Cox and its cable brethren have refused to obey the law and develop the technology to comply with what Congress mandated 14 years ago.

If none of those short versions satisfies you’re going to have to settle in for a long, history-laden tale replete with bureaucratic battles, crippled 3rd party set top boxes, a long, successful rear-guard action by incumbents determined to keep consumers from controlling the boxes attached to their cable network and dueling technologies favored by self-interested players in a three-sided match-up. It’s one of those stories that nakedly reveals “the way things really work” in a way that doesn’t say much good about any of the major players.

Ok, first there is the cast of characters:

  • FCC: the federal communications commissions playing the part of the pitiful big guy all the tougher kids enjoy messing with.
  • The Telephone Companies: playing the confident old-timer with generations of home field advantage; the telcos have traditionally dominated the FCC game, but breaking into the video big time with IPTV-based set top boxes instead of the older cable tech requires all their lawyer’s talents.
  • The Cable Companies: playing the fiesty tough kid from the sticks the cablecos have fought a successful delaying action against federal regulations that try to impose teleco-like requirements that would allow mere consumers to attach their own devices to the tough kids’ network—and rob those tough guys of their traditional set top box charges.
  • The Consumer Electronics Association has wandered in from left field wanting to make sure that the big consumer electronics companies have a big single, unified market for set top boxes that keeps them from having to develop separate toys to control satellite, cable, and telco video set top boxes.

oh and:

  • LUS, the lonely little new kid on the block in the supporting role of the outsider whose seemingly innocuous question sets off a major battle. (This is the character whose fate is so unimportant to the plot that it’s never resolved…and only the friends and family of the actor notice.)

The background story, the setup for the latest battle:
Gather round kiddies, this story goes back to that dim time before the internet, 40 years ago, a time when things were different…Back then the FCC actually had the power and the will to break up huge monopolies like AT&T (really, it was broken up before the modern FCC midwifed in its rebirth). This all starts with the almost mythological Carterphone: a device that was to morph into the analog sound-based “modulate/demodulate” device that in turn became the digital modem of recent history. That’s right sprouts: without the Carterphone there would be no internet for anyone today. And we almost didn’t get the Carterphone. I won’t tell the long version of the story (but it’s a goodun.) What interests us today is that the FCC told the telcos that they had to let any device connect to the telephone network as long as it didn’t damage the network. Ma Bell (what we used to call AT&T) howled. But the FCC stood its ground and soon all manner of phones that hung on the wall or had push buttons, or were wireless, or were pink replaced the phone company’s black table-top rotary-dial ringer that had produced such a nice steady stream of income for Ma Bell. Though nobody knew it then the internet and VOIP and all manner of things that were to humble the once-invincible phone company flowed from that single brave decision to tell the phone company that it was only the owner of the network and had no right to tell legitimate users how they used the connection they bought.

—No, nobody knew back then but the story is oft-retold now… and the fiesty cable guys who’d once been little local municipal video providers but had coelesced into monopolies fully capable of taking on the telcos—and the sadly diminished FCC knew the implications of the Carterphone decision. And they had no intention of losing control of their network to consumers the way that the old AT&T had. Back in 1996, at the dawn of the internet era when the country was flush with enthusiasm for the new communications network, Congress passed a new telecom act which among other things, tried to reproduce the success of Carterphone by requiring that cable companies open their lines as well and specifically that they allow

“other converter boxes, interactive communications equipment, and other equipment used by consumers to access multichannel video programming and other services offered over multichannel video programming systems, from manufacturers, retailers, and other vendors not affiliated with any multichannel video programming distributor.”

In other words, Carterphone for cable. Congress passed the task of enforcement off to the FCC confident that they had done their part to insure a brighter future and turned to confusing other issues. Alas, the FCC of 1996 was not the FCC of their grandfathers and, long story short: this never really happened. The cable companies successfully argued that they had to retain control of “security” and the FCC responded by requiring that the necessary proprietary security be separated from the rest of the box and located in a device that could be used in either the cable company’s or a third party company’s box. The cable card. Delay followed delay. The FCC’s enforcement was pitiful indeed. So pitiful that it tolerated delays that meant that the first generation of cable cards was outdated by the time it was available and cable has still approve a card that is able to give third party producers access to their networks. This dithering about had damaging consequences: it left the producers of products that were clearly superior (in that people were really willing to pay for them); products that had usable interfaces and pioneered Digital Video Recording either bankrupt (Replay) or barely hanging on (TiVo).

Fourteen years later the FCC rule still stands and nobody is expected to actually follow it. Everybody has garnered an exception of one sort or another. All the players have their own version renewed occasionally on ever-varying grounds. The only constant is that the networks have never had to let their customers attach the equivalent of shiny new pink digital phones to their networks.

The consequence is that the much-anticipated digital convergence still hasn’t happened. You can’t surf the internet on your TV (well, there is an exception we’ll get to), you can’t do video telephony using your TV as a monitor, setting up recordings over the net or from your smart phone remains an uber-geek activity….and on. We could have used a cable version of the Carterphone. Instead what we got was a slightly faster version of the same access that the telephone companies had been forced to accept over their lines designed for voice. Faster internet, not access to a whole new communications network designed for video and much larger capacities.

The satellite companies never really had to comply with the law—the cable companies successful defense meant that satellite never really had to come up to bat since big brother cable proved capable of fending off the very idea. So satellite got an exception until cable could figure it all out…and cable wasn’t about to. As workable cable cards finally neared market acceptance cable whirled around and managed to get the day put off a bit longer by instituting a new non-hardware based software standard which would be oh-so-much better. They got an extension of their exception to work on that. When the telephone companies finally started to get into the provision of video over their networks it was built on the back of the new internet (the one that their lose in Carterphone days helped create), implemented a version of IPTV—and taking a leaf from the well-worn book of cable have claimed that their special technology wasn’t compatible with the old cable-card technology either. And (you see where this is going?) they got their version of an exception.

Who does that leave who does have to comply?

Surely you remember the lonely new kid on the block who asked the uncomfortable question? LUS? Apparently the argument is going to be that LUS should be the only guy in the neighborhood that has to follow the rules. This argument comes from none other than Cox Communications whose own exemption to the rule is still in place. Cox doesn’t argue that the technology exists to allow LUS to follow the rule. (And it doesn’t) Cox just argues that LUS should comply with a rule that it has never, ever, over 14 years done anything but fight itself. Citizens of Lafayette will be amused to learn that they are arguing that they only want to provide a “level playing field.” Again. Like the state’s (un)Fair Competition Act, you can be sure that when Cox says it wants a level playing field what they really mean is that they want the government to impose limits on Lafayette that it has never had to abide by itself. What is fair about asking your small local competition to abide by rules you yourself have successfully evaded? Of course this isn’t about fairness. It’s about advantage. In a halfway sane world the FCC would laugh in the face of an effective monopolist like Cox that tried to impose rules on a brand new competitor coming in from the outside any of the major sectors to provide the very high-speed, fiber-to-the-home, low priced competition that the FCC has been sniveling about wanting for the entire 14 years it has failed to enforce the law….but we don’t live in a halfway sane regulatory environment.

To pile on the insult the latest is that the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has weighed in. Understandably frustrated after all these years, all the companies that want to make the magical media devices that record all and control all in your living room have demanded that the FCC quit making exceptions and enforce its rules….on a small municipal provider that is actually providing an innovative, powerful, cheap alternative that the FCC says it wants and that is the model of everything the CEA should hope happens to US broadband. Just for the sake of completeness I should note that each of the three-telco, cable, and CEA–have their own candidates for a new technology to enable video network openness. Each of them would dearly love to control that technology and no one can doubt that the one they’d come up with would 1) advantage them, 2) disadvantage their competitors, and 3) enrich the owners of the tech. Nobody’s hands are clean.

LUS, of course, doesn’t have the wherewithal to develop a new technology itself. The set top box family deployed in Lafayette is apparently the only one that is usable with both the Alcatel equipment the community is using and with IPTV. The fact that the network is all IPTV (translation into analog for analog tier users takes place on the wall of the house) opens up vast new areas for innovation. The 100 meg intranet “campus” is a good example of what a really innovative community-oriented network can do. Neither Cox nor any other cable provider is providing free unthrottled in-network bandwidth to its users. Even more on point: LUS offers our community an internet connection through the IPTV set top box. That the box is natively IP is crucial to that very desireable feature. Subscribers that don’t even own a computer are able to surf the net. That’s something that IP enables…and something, again, that I don’t see that Cox or any of the other guys who have set top boxes have done. Really opening up the set top box is something that Congress was right about. There is huge room for innovation. The FCC’s failure to enforce, and Congress’ failure to provide adequate oversight to see that the nation’s laws are enforced have cost the country dearly.

LUS points out that every other IPTV-using network has already received this waiver and that all they are asking for is the same waiver that Verizon and other established IPTV providers have already secured. To ask new entrants who are actually competing and using the new technology to offer a cheaper, faster, more innovative system is to bear a burden the established corporations do would be stunningly counter-productive.

Let’s hope the FCC can find the courage that the FCC forty years ago had, do the right thing here and refuse to reward the bullying of a large corporation who has evaded the very rule that they hope to impose on a cheaper, local, competitor. A competitor who, incidentally, is actually demonstrating the value of innovation on the set top box that the rule is designed to achieve.

Cox’s 50 Mbps Tier in Virginia

What’s Being Said dept.

Lafayette got some good press in the national broadband media* lately…not because of anything we did here but because Cox offered its 50/5 meg tier for the first time outside of Lafayette and Lafayette got mentioned as the first place it was offered. The new area is in Northern Virginia, a region which 1) has some of the nation’s small areas of overbuilder competition, RCN competes sporadically with Cox cable there and in DC., 2) is one of the first areas where Verizon’s fiber service FIOS was launched and where it has a 50/20 meg tier, and 3) is a commuter center for some of DC’s most influential people….

That’s northern Virginia, the sort of privileged place that gets Cox’s latest and greatest tier second is a real testement to how much Cox must be worried about LUS and municipal broadband in general. Not convinced?

Well consider this: Cox is offering their 50/5 meg for $139.99 per month in Northern Virginia where it has substantial private fiber-based competition (Verizon sells its 50/20 tier for $94.50 a month in that area.) It’s not really competing on price or speed and is thus essentially conceding the upper end of the broadband market to Verizon in the limited areas where they overlap—What this offering really achieves isn’t competition, it’s simply piggybacking on the excitement created by other firms about really high bandwidth offerings. Cox picks up a lucrative set of upgraders as their established customers in that region develop a taste for really big broadband as a result of hearing friends brag about the fantastic capacities Verizon and other regional powerhouses are giving their customers.

But ONLY in little ole Lafayette does Cox bother to cut its price—in Lafayette parish you can get Cox’s service for $90 bucks. Washington lobbyists and congressmen get to pay $140….I’d say that tells us a lot about how Cox views the competition here. Of course LUS’ 50/50 tier is only 58 dollars and Cox isn’t really competitive with that — so even down here in Louisiana it is more about taking advantage of the demand some other company developed and not much about real competition. In the city anyone desiring high speed connectivity would be crazy pay a 33% premium to get a slower speed tier and higher latency…. No in Lafayette, as in Northern Virginia the real play is to get those outside the competitive islands to buy a higher priced package that has already been proven a winner by companies that pioneered those speeds. It is just that in Lafayette the local competition’s price is so much lower than what Cox wants to charge nationally that it’d be more embarrassing than helpful to try an market a service for $140 dollars that could be had down the street for 58 bucks from the local public provider (and at better upload speeds and latency too…) Big broadband adopters out in the parish have a lot for which to thank LUS— availability and 50 bucks a month.

*See the coverage in Broadband Reports (the most detailed), Gigaom, and PCMag for examples.

Lafayette Commons: “Floor Raising”

There’s going to be a “floor raising” for Lafayette Commons tomorrow at 6:00 PM in the new Southside Library. (6101 Johnston St—map) You’re Invited!

The event will be a floor raising in two senses:

  • first, it will introduce a project that hopes to raise the floor for the people of Lafayette: to make a common set of sophisticated tools available to everyone free of charge;
  • second, the meeting will be the first step in a community barn raising: it will gather users, programmers, admin types, and content producers in one place with to advance the project by laying down the floor….

A bit more:

Lafayette Commons is currently built on an Education Edition of Google Apps. Apps is a pretty shockingly sophisticated platform giving free access to an intergrated suite of email, calandering, word processing, spreadsheet, chat, web-building, and video apps. You get online storage to the tune of 8 gigs. With the Education Edition comes complete access to the APIs and the ability to alter them or bring in new modules or extensions. Each account comes with its own personalized start page giving quick access to your basic functions (like email, calendar, or docs). The start page also offers access to thousands of specialized “widgets” that winnow out the wealth of information availabel on the web; Lafayette Commons will host and encourage specialized Lafayette-centric widgets focusing on subjects ranging from crime and traffic to weather and local events.

A list of those interested in the “floor raising” will include:

  • Users of all stripes,
  • Nonprofits—cheap, sophisticated, cross platform tools should especially appeal to them
  • Programmers eager to learn something new and help out their community
  • Content providers who want their content in front of the public; from local government to the news, to events producers
  • Volunteers wanting to help bring folks up to speed or administer the site functions

In short, we’re looking for you.

(There’s an online invite too…if you’d like to get your very own personal invitation check the web page out and ask there. Similarly, if you can’t make the floor raising, but are interested check the invite and follow out the clicks for that option.)

“Fiber rollout continues”

The Advertiser has a very measured piece about the fiber project on its front page today. Titled “Fiber rollout continues” it reports that things mostly are proceeding as expected. New news, such as it is, consists of notes about the locations of some phase 2 areas that are getting built a little early and a new reason for the slow, “controlled” rollout.

On phase 2:

LUS Director Terry Huval said crews are working in Phase II of the rollout, which includes downtown Lafayette and areas along Ambassador Caffery Parkway north of Congress Street and a small area along Johnston Street.

Huval said it can take four to six months to prepare an area to receive fiber service, which is why crews will often be seen working in multiple phase areas at the same time.

As to the slow rollout:

As for Phase I customers, Huval said the rollout continues to be slow, something that LUS officials expected. The main reason is that LUS is still using a manual system to sign up customers. Eventually, an automated system will be in place that will make the process quicker.

“That’s one of the things that keeps our rollout schedule slower than a lot of people would like to see it be,” Huval said. “When we want to serve more customers, we want to have that automated system to do it quickly and seamlessly. That’s probably going to be ready sometime this summer.”

“Fiber service coming to Saint Streets”

The Independent covers the installation of fiber in the “Saint Streets and the [adjacent] Oaklawn neighborhoods.” The news seem to be that mcuh these neighborhoods were not in “phase 1” of the build but are getting fiber a bit out of sequence due to a happy worker scheduling issue. But if you’ll check the LUS online map (and LPF’s possibly more easily navigated version) you’ll see that most of these neighborhoods are in Phase 1. Color me Orange—confused but happy.

Still, I’ve had several calls or emails from folks in the area who wanted fiber and were hoping to get it…they’re gonna be some especially happy people in the triangle described by the hospital, the university, and downtown—a natural hotbed of high-fiber consumers.

It’s certainly getting to the edges of phase 1; and , I’ve no doubt, is straying over the line in some places.

Be of good heart all of ye hungry hopeful; it’s coming:

LUS is on track to meet its goal of being able to provide service to anyone within the city limits by the first quarter of 2011. Currently, Huval says, LUS is offering service in some areas around the Acadiana Mall and in the Broadmoor subdivision. “We have the system built there,” he says. “And we’re opening up small pockets at a time to take in customers. We’re not opening the whole system, we’re taking bits at a time, just whatever we can handle with the manpower we’ve got right now. But as time goes on we’re going to have more and more manpower installing services so we’re going to get much faster.”


Even though you may see crews laying fiber in your neighborhood, don’t expect the service to be available the next day. Huval says it generally takes four to six months from the time fiber is buried or hung on poles in a subdivision to the time when LUS will actually start taking customers there.

Always the caveat….

When Swine Flu

Lafayette has emerged as something of a regional epicenter of the swine flu outbreak. Five parochial schools have been closed, final exams for seniors have been canceled, and local media types are in high dungeon over the fact that our fair community has been targeted by this disease. First, Stanford; now swine flu. Man, it’s been a rough spring for the geaux-geaux crowd in this part of the world.

There are some indications that this version of the flu, in its current incarnation, could prove relatively mild (although, the virus continues to mutate and may head south of the equator for cooler, more hospitable climes as summer breaks out up here). So, elements of the response we are seeing now from public health officials and public institutions is something of a test run for the real thing — which could be either a more virulent form of this flu, or something like the bird flu or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

On the other hand, Lafayette is beginning to experience a bandwidth flood which is going to position this community to respond much more effectively to potential disasters like the outbreak of an infectious disease. The LUS fiber network is continuing is ponderously slow roll out across the city (the fiber is getting in place, the problem seems to be a shortage of installers). Cox has announced that Lafayette will be the first community on its network where it deploys Docsis 3 technology, bundling a bunch of network strands together as a means to try to keep up with the bandwidth delivered over fiber.

And, so?

Well, all of this bandwidth will give schools, businesses, government and others the ability to continue functioning in the event of a disease outbreak here. They will be able to do this via teleconferencing, teleworking, distance learning. Call it what you want.

Essentially, we are approaching the point in Lafayette where we can rely on network resources to offset the negative economic, social and other impacts of calamities like disease outbreaks (possibly even man-made and/or natural disasters). That is, if we use the current outbreak as a teaching opportunity, we will see that it would make a lot of sense to bring fiber to our classrooms, so that teaching can continue to take place, even if large numbers of students are absent. Wire the teachers’ homes to enable them to teach from there, if conditions warrant.

Within a couple of years, if we commit to it, every household with a child in Lafayette Parish could be connected to a network that ties them into their school. Over these connections, the process of education in our parish could continue unabated, regardless of other circumstances in our parish. It would be as simple as setting up Skype video conference dial-ins under most circumstances.

Companies should ensure that their key employees have fiber or other robust connections so that they can work from home, if something in the environment — disease, chemical, bio hazard — prevents them from being able to go into the office.

Discussions about this possibility are taking place in various places in the technology world. However, Lafayette is uniquely positioned to act because of the kind of connectivity that is being deployed.

This kind of connectivity is not possible in every community, but it is possible in Lafayette Parish because of the network infrastructure that LUS, Cox and even AT&T have deployed here. That connectivity enables a different kind of response; one that can enable life and commerce to continue with limited disruption using the network resources now at our disposal.

This possibility has been out there for a while. It has been part of the case this site has been making in support of the LUS fiber system over the past five years.

Hopefully, the current swine flu outbreak will prove mild. More importantly, we should begin focusing immediately on the lesson we can learn about how to make our next response fundamentally different — and more effective.

Next time an infectious disease hits Lafayette, no school should close. We should begin preparing now so that, next time, learning and commerce can switch seamlessly to the network without missing a beat, a buck, or a lesson. It is another way that Lafayette can put our technology investments to work enhancing the uniqueness of our community.