Cox: Costs too high for high-speed service

Our neighbors in Franklin are being told that it’d be too expensive for Cox or AT&T to serve them all with real broadband. It’s not that the incumbents wouldn’t earn money…they just wouldn’t earn it as easily or as quickly as they want.

A story in the Advocate shows that the nub of the matter is well-understood by Franklin’s Councilmen:

“I think everyone should have it and you all should bend a little, especially if you will be making a profit in 10 years,” Foulcard said.

Councilman Logan Fromenthal argued there are many areas of the parish where Cox is making a good profit.

What Foulcard and Fromenthal have in mind is treating telecommunications as a utility in the same manner that your residential telephone service was understood in years: the company that was granted the right to use our public right of ways for private profit was supposed to serve everyone (not just the low-hanging fruit) and it was well-understood that they weren’t supposed to be making the same high rate of profit that was available to businesses that weren’t dependent upon getting favored use of public resources.

The councilmen are right: That is the way it should be.

Unfortunately, the federal government long ago exempted the telephone companies from any local control and our state legislators have spent the last few years passing a series of bills that transfer most of the power to say how local rights of way are used up to the state level and put up barriers to the local communities that own and maintain the land providing these services themselves. The consequence is that communities like Franklin can’t easily do much more than complain and ask politely.

There is an alternative and Lafayette has shown the way. Do it yourself. Build a world class fiber-optic network yourself. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Yes, it would be costly, but yes, it could pay for itself in a perfectly doable period of time if it didn’t have to pay for itself in a short 2-4 year period as the private companies demand.

There are possibilities out there besides “asking politely.”

Apply for some of the federal broadband stimulus money from RUS (the rural utilies service). Look to Google’s recent offer to supply 1 gig of broadband to up to 500,000 people and make your case. Or just make up your mind to do it yourself.

You do have one advantage in making such an effort: Lafayette. Lafayette just up the road has its own publicly-owned state of the art fiber optic network with a brand new head-end that is the technical heart of the system. If St. Mary were to set up their own network they could farm the head-end work out to LUS and avoid the problems associated with building and maintaining that highly technical facility. And I’d bet that an intergovernmental agreement there would be a lot cheaper than any private alternative. (LUS is already a utility, it doesn’t have to make its money back fast. But would surely welcome any additional revenue.) There is already fiber running down the railroad track between the two cities.

Just light it up.

Lagniappe: A lot of people in Lafayette think that owning its own utilities was the key to Lafayette becoming Acadiana’s “hub city.” Awareness of that history was one good reason the community supported extending the idea to LUS Fiber. Ownership made sure that modern electricity and clean water was reliably available when that was what made a city “modern” and livable. Owning those facilities meant that the city was not dependent on any outside force to provide the necessities and attract new citizens and businesses. And it meant that all those dollars of profit stayed and circulated in the city. There was a day when both New Iberia and Opelousas were bigger and more important than Lafayette…but those days passed. Any community that wants grow and prosper needs to own its own local resources. Owning your own telecom utility is today’s equivalent of electricity. Now is the moment.

“LUS: Fiber on right track”

If you follow Lafayette’s LUS Fiber but don’t get the Baton Rouge Advocate you’ll want to check out Richard Burgess’ latest story, “LUS: Fiber on right track.” The heart of the story is found in the first paragraph:

Lafayette’s publicly owned fiber-optic based Internet, television and telephone service appears to be moving toward sound financial footing a year after its launch.

and the kicker:

Huval said this week that LUS Fiber should easily achieve the 23 percent market penetration needed to break even.

That’s the story and it should be understood as a huge and exciting one. LUS Fiber is on track to making its financial nut. The bottom line in the story of the new utility division is no more complicated than getting the take rate needed for success.

What’s nice about this story is the careful attention to the right detail. The first thing the citizens of Lafayette need to know about their new utility is whether or not it will pay for itself. This story makes it clear that as of right now it is on the expected path towards that goal. (At a moment when the network is not yet completed.) That path includes large upfront investments in expensive infrastructure that we have always understood would be paid out over the 25 year life of the bond issue.

LUS Fiber should not be “making” money in its first years. In fact the presence of a “profit” in the early years would be a terrible sign since it would indicate that LUS is not taking on the very heavy expenses of customer installations that raise its take rate and result in income which leads to the eventual timely retirement of the bond issue. Stories that lead with the “expenses” and “loses” in these first years are being sensational and hoping for no more than an excited readership. But worse than sensationalism they are actively misleading their readers about what is important about this developing public resource. Burgess’ story does not to succumb to this temptation and so it is not an “exciting” read — unless you understand the basic dynamics of the situation. I’ve argued (repeatedly) in these pages that the first duty of a news story is educational. Kudos to the Advocate on this one.

Click through to the report; there’s more interesting and encouraging tidbits about things like the higher than expected proportion of those taking all three services. It is a good solid read.

“LUS: Fiber schedule, meetings, software and more

Who DAT! You Dat! 🙂
If you’re recovering from Saints fever I have just the antidote. A long post on the latest in Lafayette’s fiber fortunes. If you’re starting to think that maybe anything is possible, well, read on.

Amanda McElfresh over at the Advertiser has an article up that apparently derives from following up remarks made by Joey Durel in his state of the city-parish address. In that speech (video) Durel devoted a fair amount of his time to touting the LUS Fiber network (@ minute 8:00). He revealed publicly what had been widely rumored locally: LUS Fiber was far ahead of schedule, and that the city-wide availability was expected by July, 18 months into a 24 month schedule. Durel linked the completion of the network to a series of meetings meant to engage the community with discussing what the “fiber-powered future” could look like.

Discussing that Fiber-Powered Future
As long time readers and friends will recall the general idea that Lafayette’s people need to get involved meetings that would shape the future of the new network is something I’ve long advocated. Both here and and in various community groups like Lafayette Coming Together and the League of Women Voters. So the ears pricked up at the idea that the City-Parish President would be promoting a series of meetings to look at our fiber utility and the future of our city.

The first item on Durel’s list of community meetings is “campfiber” a series, according to Durel, of “participant-driven conferences will be opportunities for local innovators to share their projects, get feedback from the community and for everybody to discuss their fiber-powered future.” There have been several CampFiber meetings already (LPF coverage) and to date they’ve been strongly oriented toward software developers as participants and not toward public response or discussion. If they are to serve the purpose Durel describes they’ll have to change. Engaging the imagination of the technology-types is crucial, of course—they’ve got more to dream with—but two other groups will be needed as well: the public and LCG/LUS. Both are crucial to a worthwhile discussion. The need for public involvement is obvious. But just as critical is a fully engaged LCG administration and LUS. LUS and the administration did attend and engage at the first campfiber. But in the end that participation seemed mostly defensive; real progress here will require the developer and the larger community be given more information with which to work. Two useful models occur to this writer: bring together distinct community groups beyond developers—nonprofits, church, medical, educational, creatives, small business, and neighborhoods all come to mind and ask them what a community-owned network could do for their sectors. (The Lafayette League of Women Voters has held the prototype of this model in two meetings involving nonprofits and community service organizations with fair success.) The other angle would be to organize around specific elements of the new system…for example: channel selection, internet storage, TV-phone integration, TV-internet integration, or set-top box uses (I can guarantee interest in the set top box.) For CampFiber meetings to engage the community will require focus and commitment from LUS and LCG.

The other item on Durel’s list of meetings was Fiber Fete (website) which he described as designed to “bring experts from around the world to Lafayette to meet with local innovators to discuss what our fiber future looks like and plan on how to get to there from here.” I’ve talked with the organizers—David Isenberg and Geoff Daily—and sit on what passes for the local board. The quote from Durel is just about the current extent of the planning; it is only now getting into any concrete planning. I’ve pushed for a more consistently social approach and for bring in speakers who are prepared to speak about how technology can be part of making communities stronger and people within them more active and powerful participants. Too many “visionary” tech conferences are trapped by the amazing technical wizardry and raw possibility of new technologies. Others go beyond that narrow vision only to focus solely on the business potential of these same technologies. While both of those motives are proper enough in their place that is not what a new community network needs and I’d hate to see
Fiber Fete captured by such limited visions. What’s needed is a sense of how powerful communications technologies can be leveraged to create a stronger community and a more active and informed citizenry. (I am aware of the irony of suggesting that at a moment when deconsolidation is the talk of the town.) Having David Isenberg as one of the chief organizers gives me considerable hope that we might actually be able to accomplish this. His Freedom To Connect Conferences (F2C) are directly about promoting the idea that ensuring that we can freely connect to one another over the new network is the modern equivalent of freedom of assembly and free speech…That, rather than technical gee-whizary, is the right starting point for Lafayette and its people (not merely its “innovators”) to start their thinking about a the responsibilities of a community-owned network.

For any of these public meetings to be useful rather than ornamental they’ll have to involve more than the usual crowd labeled “innovators” — they’ll need to involve a real cross-section of the community’s most active citizens and the sense that LUS and LCG are open to sharing the information the community needs to assess what the network can accomplish and the sense that their conclusions will matter after the conference closes. That’s a tall order. But it’s one worth striving for.

The Rest of the Story
But Sunday’s report had a lot of fiber news beyond the revelation of an early completion date and the prospect of public meetings. The new customer service center that we’ve heard about for so long is now scheduled to open by June. Says LUS’ Huval:

a customer service center set to open at the corner of Pinhook and Kaliste Saloom roads by June. The building will include samples of LUS Fiber products, and will also be equipped to handle the needs of utilities customers, thus freeing up some of the gridlock at the customer service center at City Hall.

That will coincide with the completion of the network and, hopefully, a more vigorous public relations campaign promoting the new network.

Huval continues to be coy about adoption rates but says that “many” thousands have joined up. I’ve talked to friends who talk about most of their block or street moving over. I can’t say that of my northside neighborhood and suspect that take rates are a very local phenomena at this early moment.

What should be welcome news was the declaration that LUS Fiber is going to be going through its first major upgrade. Again, from Terry Huval:

“It’s tied to the set-top boxes and enhanced DVR services,” he said. “It was a technology that was not completely ready for us to use when we deployed our system, and it’s something that’s not costly to us.”

The software used on the Motorola boxes just isn’t very good…it’s older and the interface is a pain to use. So I don’t use it. Now I am an interface nerd of sorts and also refused to use Cox’s set top box software. With both LUS and Cox I have done most of my TV watching via the two old TiVo’s that sit precariously perched on a rickity table by the widescreen. My understanding is that the new software will be an iteration of Microsofts’ Media Room. That software package has been used by Verizon in its FiOS FTTH build out in the northeast. Verizon also uses the same family of Microsoft set top boxes that LUS has purchased so it should be a fairly mature implementation and full-featured platform. It will also be a much easier basis on which to build extended services than the Alcatel-supplied software currently in use. Heck it might even be usable.

A real concern has to be the internet capability which was the bright spot in the less-than-stellar Alcatel software. That feature is a great idea but its current reliance on a WAP-based browser both limits its practical utility and makes it extremely dificult to use. That capacity exists in the set top box and represents LUS’ most innovative attempt to date to bridge the digital divide in Lafayette. It should be possible to utilize it on Mircrosoft’s software–after all media room for the PC allows for internet connections. If it is not baked in developing a real net connection would make a great contest with which to involve local developers.

LUS wins rate increase, smart grid

Well, LUS won its rate increase…about 15% over two years, the first rise in electricity costs since 1998. If you want to see the sausage being made you can tune in to AOC or download the video off UStream.

The central story tomorrow will be that increase, of course. And that is probably all you’ll see in the papers. I’ll leave any detailed reporting on the back and forth to them.

On the other hand, I expect that there’ll be no reporting on the sidelight issue of the status of the smart grid funding and I’ll take that up here. (If you’ve not followed this you can catch up the earlier posts on the issue: 1, 2.) The smart grid package, which includes both water and electricity utilities will go forward and the Feds will cough up half the money necessary to pay for communications infrastructure and the electrical side’s new meters—11.6 million dollars. It’s a great deal. But if the rate increased had failed, as it initially appeared to have done, then LUS would have had to turn down the stimulus money that would have made the smart grid deal so attractive for Lafayette. With that would have gone the opportunity for the service improvements that would come with the utility having instant, detailed information on the status of every customer and the potential for home owners to save money by actively managing their consumption.

There was a fair amount of back and forth on this topic and it’s apparent that LUS believes that the grant money is still there and that with the approval of the rate increase they will have no trouble convincing the Feds to turn over the money they have won.

Now that the money has been secured I’m hoping for more interesting news sooner rather than later on just which information technology will be used to connect the meters to the network. Whether it will be wired or wireless will be the first question and the answer will shape the future of the LUS communications division….stay tuned.

Update: The local and regional media has weighed in and as I suspected there no mention of the 11.6 million dollars in federal lagniappe that goes with the decision. From the Advertiser: “LUS rate hike OK’d” and from the Advocate: “LUS rate hike wins approval.” From the Independent: “LUS rate increase approved.”

The Bad: St. Mary council demands Internet, cable service for all

Early this morning I posted the good news that a small rural carrier in northeast Louisiana was building out a fiber to the home network for its customers using stimulus money. What made it news was that a poor rural area was getting advanced connections.

Today the Advocate carries the bad news story that rural residents in St. Mary parish are complaining that they can’t get a decent internet connection—and that the council there is calling the incumbents Cox and AT&T in on the carpet saying: “If you are going to serve St. Mary Parish, you have to service all of St. Mary Parish.” It’s not news that rural folks don’t have decent broadband. What makes this news is that their local representatives are trying to do something about it.

What reading these two stories back to back makes pretty clear is that explaining the difference between the two isn’t hard. The rural areas that have little chance to get world-class connectivity are places “served” by large national carriers like Cox and AT&T. Places that do better are served by local folks, be they private or publicly owned.

That might be something for the people of St. Mary to think about. The people of Lafayette already have.

Acadiana “Program aiming at tech gap”

If you missed the story Je’Nelle Chargois and her computer rebuilding project then you need to take a look at the story in the Advocate. The project exemplifies all those grassroots, community-driven public/private ideals you hear about so often—and so seldom see in full-blown action. Here’s the gist of the story; one that will hopefully drive you to read the whole thing—and maybe even contribute to the project at hand or start one yourself:

Through a partnership between community organizations and local businesses, at least 200 computers will be placed in the homes of Faulk students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the technology outside of the classroom.

“We’re trying to close the digital divide and give them to the tools to compete,” said Je’Nelle Chargois, manager of KJCB radio and coordinator of the Heritage School of the Arts and Technology, partners in the project.

The group has worked with the school to match 137 students with computers. By next month, the group will have reached its goal of placing 200 computers, Chargois said.

The computers have been donated by area companies and, as needed, refurbished by volunteer computer technicians.

Those students who receive a computer and their parents must attend computer literacy workshops. The parents also agree to get more involved at Faulk.

There’s more, of course; there’s a neighborhood center involved, Vision Community Services, founded by Sessil Trepagnier, a computer analyst with Halliburton. I’ve worked with Je’Nelle briefly on a rebuilding project a couple of years back and can testify that she’s devoted to doing this right.

If this sort of thing interests you and you think you’d like to help out or do something similar I’ve got a meeting you might want to attend: the League of Women Voters of Lafayette is bring together a group of folks who have previously expressed an interest in starting projects in Lafayette concerning both computer rebuilding and community computer centers. That meeting is next Monday, Jan. 25th at 5:30 at AOC (Main at Lee downtown). Both Sessil and Je’Nelle will speak as will a number of others ranging from League membe Thetis Cusimano reporting on research on current community center resources done by League members to Sona Dombourian of the Lafayette Library.

One Story? Economic Development

Some days there’s not “a” story but several stories taken together that tell the tale. I suspect that today is such a day.

Here’s a list of marginally interesting stories that have hit today: Firm relocating to Lafayette (Advocate), City lands corporate office (Advertiser), LUS Fiber expands Internet service (Advertiser), Lafayette, LA: Best places ranking: #2 among midsize metro areas (CNN Money) and Lafayette Location Of Transcom Announces 700 New Jobs (KATC–from earlier this month). Each one interesting and encouraging enough in its own right.

Together they tell a tale of a city that, even in these hard times, is expanding its job market, making itself attractive to newcomers, and is providing shockingly cheap net services to small businesses. Most of the story, frankly, is in those headlines…the meat of the stories add detail but not substance.

Without making the silly claim that all of this was driven by fiber, I have to say that I think that LUS’ fiber network is not getting its fair share of the credit in the stories. The 700 jobs that Transom brought? Don’t recall those guys? Well, Transcom is the new corporate parent of NuConn…the call center guys that constituted Lafayette’s first big, directly-connected-to-the-fiber-vote win. Back when NuConn/Transcom first came to town they were clear that fiber—and the community’s gumption in voting it in—were the deciding factor in coming to Lafayette. As far as being able to run an engineering/consulting firms’ national corporate office out of a mid-tier city like Lafayette? NOT possible without really massive, really world-class connectivity. The fact that it is as cheap as dirt here is only a huge cherry on top of having that sort of connectivity available at all. Engineering firms are among the most voracious of bandwidth users. Without really good connectivity there’d be no such firm considering a move to our fair town. And that brings up the announcement of a 100 megs of symmetrical bandwidth being available to every business, small or large, in every neighborhood, rich or poor, in the city for the crazy price of $199.95. Or the low end (low?) version of 10 megs symmetrical for $64.95? This has got to be the best place to start up your own garage internet business around.

Credit where credit’s due: LUSFiber is making a big difference.

One Big Happy? Family

Cox has announced that it is combining its New Orleans operations with “Greater Louisiana” Market — Greater Louisiana is made up of the former Baton Rouge and Lafayette divisions which were combined three years ago.

The new division has half a million customers and will be Cox’s 3rd largest market.

But Cox the spokesperson is careful to note:

Ann Ruble said the move would not affect rates.

Now that might sound reassuring. But what it means at the current moment is that Baton Rouge and New Orleans should not expect to share in Lafayette’s good fortune with a cheaper, installation-cost-optional version of Cox’s only-in-Lafayette 50/5 mbps ultimate tier.

“Cox builds Internet speed”

This morning’s Advocate weighs in with an interesting view of Cox’s new 5o mbps down/5 mbps up service. The report focuses on the reactions from most of the principals including Cox, EATel and AT&T but oddly excluding a direct reaction from LUS.

The article makes it clear that while Cox denies any direct influence, (apparently the local folks are making that mistake after all) knowing that LUS Fiber is offering a 50/50 mbps fiber-based internet service is the key to understanding why Cox would debut its new flagship service in such a small market.

The gist of the story as far as LUS vs. Cox is concerned is contained in the following paragraphs:

The introductory price of Cox’s “Ultimate” Internet service in Lafayette is $89.99 per month, plus $99.95 for the required modem and an installation fee that will vary by customer, according to information from Cox.

The company has set the standard suggested price for the service at $139.99 a month.

That price is comparable to similar offerings by Verizon and Comcast, though those companies generally provide their top-tier Internet services only in large markets.

LUS Fiber is selling its premium service of 50 Mbps download and upload for $57.95, with no additional cost for installation or equipment.

LUS Fiber customers can exchange information with others on the local fiber network at 100 Mbps.

The 50 Mbps residential Internet service options in Lafayette Parish are unique in the state.

The larger story is that competition is good: Lafayette has two 50 mbps providers, one with real symmetrical service and the rest of the state has NO such providers. The rest of the country will get this service, when Cox gets around to it, for 1 1/2 times as much, 50 bucks a month more…and it looks like the installation fee locally will “vary by customer” instead of being the 99 dollar pro install that others will uniformly pay. My guess is that, more precisely, the installation fee will vary by customer location…if you live in Lafayette and want this then tell Cox that you don’t want to pay for installation—after all the competition, LUS, isn’t charging for it. 🙂 Cox will probably be happy to put you on the hook for only the 100 dollar modem that you will have to dump when LUS gets to you. Like I said: Competition is good.

Reports from other providers flesh out the local and regional competitive picture. AT&T gets pitifully aggressively vague:

AT&T is preparing to launch its U-verse package in the Baton Rouge market with download speeds of 18 Mbps and upload speeds of 1.5 Mbps, AT&T spokeswoman Sue Sperry said.

Sperry said she could not give a specific timeline for Baton Rouge or plans for other markets…

AT&T will be a third run competitor in the city of Lafayette’s already competitive market. Since Cox is battling LUS’s full 50 meg offering with the best it can muster for the lowest price it can muster AT&T will surely be shut out of the city broadband market. It is hard to imagine that they see much upside to the costs of upgrading in-city only to remain in third place. What AT&T has on its side is wireless mobility — but both Cox and LUS have plans to minimize that strong point.

EATel in East Ascension and Livingston parish is a privately owned rural telephone company that has rolled out a FTTH project in some of the fastest growing parishes in the country.

A pocket of 30 Mbps service is offered in portions of Ascension and Livingston parishes by EATEL, a privately owned communication company that launched its own fiber-optic system in 2005.

The company charges $99.95 per month for download speeds of 30 Mbps and upload speeds of 15 Mbps, with $20 shaved off if Internet is bundled with phone and video, EATEL Sales and Marketing Director Brad Supple said.

He said EATEL’s fiber-optic system still has much capacity to offer faster service in the future.

EATel is running a very aggressive billboard campaign in its footprint. But has yet to elicit cheaper new services for its customers.

Finally, the Adovcate story makes sure its Baton Rouge readers understand the pickle they’re in:

In Baton Rouge, Cox’s top-tier Internet service provides standard download speeds of up to 15 Mbps — with boosts of up to 20 Mbps — and upload speeds of 1.5 Mbps.

What the reporter neglects to mention is that AT&T back in March of 08, while it was successfully hoodwinking the state legislature in to passing an industry-sponsored bill to set up state-wide video franchising in Louisiana took the capital city off the table as a player by cutting a separate deal to offer the capital city many of the priviledges it was insisting that other city’s not receive. At the time LPF insisted that this was a ploy and that AT&T was likely to treat Lousiana, and Baton Rouge, exactly as it had treated North Carolina where a similar successful move to infringe on the property rights of communities had lead to exactly NO new service launches by the incumbent AT&T. But the law had helped get a long, long list of cable providers off the hook to the communities whose land they use to provide cable services. AT&T has yet to launch any new services in our state and any it eventually launches in Baton Rouge will be, at best, second rate.

Competition, where you get it, is good. And in our state competition that boosts services and reduces prices has ONLY come from a municipality, a local government. State laws that gift the private duopolists with further privileges have had exactly no beneficial effect. It is never smart to feed the bully. And it’s always a good idea to do it for yourself.

LUS Fiber at the State of the Cty-Parish

Archived Broadcast by Ustream.TV
Fiber figured prominently in Mayor-president Joey Durel’s state of the City-Parish address. (All those hyphens have to do with our peculiar consolidated form of government, something which got direct attention in the speech when Durel shared his belief that we’d never have true consolodation.) While political manuvering and recriminations about the failure of the sales tax proposal occupied much of the presenation, friends of fiber had their highlight reel.

The launch of LUS Fiber in early February has to be the signature success of the Durel administration. It was a daring move on Durel’s part to so aggressively develop the fiber initiative in his first months and to unfailingly support it in the face of oft ugly opposition from two of the nation’s largest and most politically powerful monopolies. That courage was tested locally as well; while the community from left to right overwhelming swung into support, the original power base of the City-Parish’s first republican Mayor-president—the monied elite that promoted his candidacy and helped put him in office—was at best tepid and never came through with promised support. Durel’s commitment never wavered and he has earned the credit that he began to claim in this speech. He’s already reaped the political benefits: his reelection without opposition could be attributed to the fact of his high-profile success in this venture, and to the support he built among those who initially thought he’d be a typical Chamber of Commerce politician. By confounding expectations he both won new constituiencies and freed himself from old obligations. Durel is now, without doubt, both independent and the reigning political power in parish. (For an interesting view into his character I’d recommend reading this week’s cover story on Dee Stanley in the Independent. His relationship with his chief luetenant is revealing. Don’t miss, as well, the fact that he unflinchingly backed Tery Huval’s fiber project even though, as the story reveals, Huval had cut an ad in support of his opponent. Character.)

But on to the story of the speech: Both the Advertiser and the Advocate covered the speech. The Advertiser also has its own video and you can get the LCG version off UStream. (The Advertiser’s looks to be of higher resolution but autoplays.) AOC ran it live through convoluted technological tricks and you should be able to find it in rerun there.

The fiberlicious aspects:

It’s Neat:
Via the Advocate:

The fiber system, which went on-line this month, offers residential Internet service up to 50 Mbps, a speed available in few areas of the country and generally costing more than twice as much as in Lafayette.

Connection speeds from customer to customer on the fiber system within Lafayette will be at 100 Mbps.

Via the Advertiser:

Durel also showed a snapshot of what LUS Fiber television customers will see when they turn on their sets. Viewers will be able to see a menu with local and national news, weather, public events and announcements, as well as the current agendas for City-Parish Council and Lafayette Parish School Board meetings.

We’ve Been Bragging on it:
Via the Advocate, Durel said:

“Last March I testified before Congress about our fiber,” Durel said. “I was able to look two dozen congressman in the eye and say that what we are going to have in Lafayette they wouldn’t have 20 or 25 years from now. That’s how far ahead of the curve that I think Lafayette is.”

Others have noticed:
Via the Advertiser

Durel said that LUS Fiber, which launched earlier this month in some parts of the city, has been a major factor in Lafayette’s high rankings on several national lists. In the past year alone, different publications have named Lafayette one of the top 10 cities for the creative class, one of the top 10 innovative markets, one of the top 50 best places to work and play and the No. 1 city in America for new employment, among other recognitions.”What makes many of these recognitions exciting to me is that several mention our Fiber to the Premises initiative,” Durel said. “I don’t think we would have received some of them had we not pursued it. Last March I testified before Congress about our fiber. I was able to look two dozen congressmen in the eye and say that what we are going to have in Lafayette, they wouldn’t have 20 or 25 years from now. That’s how far ahead of the curve I think we are.”

Getting to this point required a political effort and Durel was at the head of that teamwork. He helped make it sure that the inevitable fiber network that will be built in Lafayette will be ours. And make no mistake: The most important feature of our network is that it is our network—not speed, not cheaper fees, not channel lineups, not bragging rights, not jobs, or development: the fact that it’s ours and we can do with it as we think best is by far its most important feature. It is independence that we won; that first and foremost.