What’s Being Said department
LUS Fiber is serving as an example of a real community fiber network in places like Champaign-Urbana Illinois that want to start their own fiber network. Now I admit to having a soft spot for C-U for both personal and technical reasons—it was my first “real” professorial appointment and it was the original home of ideas foundational to our current tech surround— like Eudora email (which I only recently gave up), the Mosaic browser (the www’s first browser), and “the Cave” 3D immersive technology we see at Lafayette’s LITE center. For long years C-U’s NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) was the biggest node on the infant internet and fount of new, imaginative applications that made the network useful.
Champaign-Urbana is trying to build its own fiber-optic network. It’s a place both cursed and blessed by its history. If you work at the university you’ve got all the connectivity you could dream of. If you live in the community…well the contrast is stark and the place is small enought that everyone knows how much better things are campus. Town & Gown is a real distinction in C-U.
The community, to its credit has a long history of dealing with digital divide issues. It is the home of PrairieNet, a legendary old line Free-Net organization that has transformed several times over the years and still serves the community, and it was the home of some of the smartest community WiFi experiments so the new push to fiber up the community is not a huge surprise.
C-U is putting the digital divide issues at the core of its project and there are more than a few ideas in their proposal that Lafayette could profitably copy.
All in all, it’s gratifying to see LUSFiber discussed with admiration as an example in C-U. What’s even more fun is to see a little real news leak out through that venue. The author of the page interviews LUS’ own Amy Broussard who reveals that LUS’ take rate is above the break-even point in the older parts of its brand-new footprint. (That’s something LUS should be publicizing more widely.) There are three nifty postage-stamp videos — remember they don’t have fiber yet — talking about the service (speeds and 100 mbps intranet), the different motivation a publicly owned network has, and the obstacles the incumbents put in the way.