Durel’s Second Term

Joey Durel (reelected recently when qualifying ended with no opposition registering) laid out two markers for his second term: Over-delivery on the LUS fiber to the home project and smart growth.

It’s the first that interests us here. From the Advocate article:

Durel said he wants to continue the progress made in his first four years, including Lafayette Utilities System’s telecommunications venture, which is expected to hook up its first customer by the second year of Durel’s second term.

Durel said he hopes to “over deliver” on the promises made about what the new telecommunications business can do for Lafayette.

When a politician talks like that he’s got something in mind. Wonder what it might be?

WBS: KillerApp: Take Three

What’s Being Said Department

Geoff Daily’s third installment in his series on Lafayette came out today in the AppRising blog at KillerApp.com. This one focuses on his tour of the LITE center and examines that unique facility. (Not quite so unique as LEDA says, however. It’s not “the world’s first six-sided digital virtual reality cube” even if it is one of the very few that are publicly available.)

Geoff’s pretty clearly wowed by the experience. I took the tour recently and know how he feels. It’s pretty cool to draw in 3D—not draw a 3D representation on a 2D device but actually draw in 3D. It is also cool to walk around in 3D immersive environment, as you might well imagine.

Geoff Daily does us the courtesy of providing his video of the tour online as an aid to your imagination. But you should really go yourself. It’s fun; it’s free; and it’s pretty much only available in Lafayette. (Well you could go to Sweden or Germany but wouldn’t you rather make an appointment down at the egg?)

LITE will also be opening its doors to the public every first Wednesday of the month for 30-minute tours. For information or reservations, call (337) 735-LITE (5483).

WBS: KillerApp: Take Two

What’s Being Said Department:

Geoff Daily over at the AppsRising blog registers the first of two promised pieces about his trip to Lafayette. This one focuses mostly on his discussions with local business folks…Abigail Ransonet, Ray Abshire, Joe Abraham, Casey Deshotels, Howard Chaney are all mentioned and he talks to Logan McDaniel, the CIO of Layette Parish School District, as well.

Interesting stuff.

TechSouth 2007

TechSouth starts next Tuesday in Lafayette’s Cajundome Convention center. It’s one of the premier tech conferences in the South and this year’s lineup is no exception. If you’ve got an interest in technology–either from a business or an enthusiast perspective–going for TechSouth’s quick, FREE pre-registration is a no-brainer for locals. You’ll be treated to a set of resources unavailable in most of the country and certainly rarely free.

There’s the usual variety of exhibitors, seminars, and interesting keynotes (The ever-popular CTI of SGI makes a return appearance at the sold-out luncheon but you can still sit in on the presentation sans food.) If you scan the lists of events (especially the seminars) you’ll be able to pick out the ones that suit your personal or organizational interests.

Of course readers of this blog will have a special interest in matters relating to Lafayette’s new broadband systems. I say systems because it has become a quietly accepted assumption that a municipal wifi system will be coupled to our fiber to the home network. So now we’ve got two leading-edge technologies to watch–and TechSouth is a great place to finger the goods.

The exhibit hall is where you’ll find the fiber-related stuff. LUS has taken up a suite of four booths. Go and get your info from the horses mouth; the engineers that will be running the project will be on on hand. Wave7, a major fiber player, has a booth. But fiberistas should also make their way to local Abacus (home of fiberina), the Motorola booth for its fiber products, and, if sufficiently hard-core, Cisco’s.

On the wifi end you’ll notice a wealth of exhibitors. Tropos is the most obvious–LUS’ RFP has made Tropos equipment the standard by which they will measure other equipment. So go take a look at their latest and greatest; you’ll see it, or something like it, going up on polls here. Nortel has a muni wireless division. Motorola has wide-area wireless as well. But the wifi moment of note will be the two morning seminars (8:45!):

  1. Municipal Mesh Wireless Networks: Practical considerations when building large public wireless networks. Presented By: CISCO and
  2. Municipal Wireless Broadband Technologies. Enabling the entire solution to provide a network that works for you. Presented by: Nortel

Lagniappe of possible interest: LATG out of New Orleans is a Sun partner that appears to specialize in governmental contracting…readers may recall the early-in-the-fiber-fight discussions with Sun — Joey Durel had Sun CEO Scott McNealy on his radio show discussing the possibilities of using Sun terminals hooked up to high-speed fiber for really low cost computing. (Don’t recall? Try: (1,2)) I know some folks are still enamored of the idea and it would be one way to attack digital divide issues. So it’s interesting to see LATG make an appearance across the basin.

LUS at TechSouth

Heads up:

TechSouth sent out an email blast with nothing in it but the following LUS teaser:

(click for a larger image)

LUS and TechSouth are promoting LUS’ booth as a place to find out more about the fiber to the home project.

If you’ve got an interest (and who reading this blog doesn’t) you’d be well-served to visit LUS at TechSouth; it’s always interesting. Last year they quietly announced in a looping slide show what has turned out to be a cornerstone of the project: full peer-to-peer bandwidth between subscribers; aka intranet speeds. That item, which means that every subscriber will be able to communicate with every other subscriber at the full available speed of the intranet, is a huge plus for both the digital divide and the entrepreneurial hopes for the local project.

Expect to be able to glean interesting details by talking directly to the folks who’ll be running the project.

Oh, and hey: TechSouth is worth visiting for a myriad of other reasons. It’s about time for a post…..

Lagniappe: Bop on over to the TechSouth site and scroll to the bottom. There you’ll find an unexpected sight: LUS, Cox, and AT&T all lined up, and sharing a common banner… 🙂

“City is among creative” (updated)

Lafayette has been ranked as one of the Top 10 Cities in the South for the Creative Class by Southern Business and Development magazine.

So saith this morning’s Advertiser. The phrase refers Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class. Florida’s analysis points to the fact that fast, clean economic growth has been associated in recent years with a welcoming environment for the so-called creative class. The thesis runs something like this: Wealth in the new economy flows from youthful creativity. To an unprecedented degree the information economy means that those most productive people can live where they want. And they want to live in a cool place. They want to live in Austin, not Pittsburgh… So Austin booms and Pittsburgh languishes. The conclusion is obvious: if you and your community want in on some of that new, cool, clean, high wage growth you make sure that you provide the sorts of things those folks want. A great music scene, good food, tolerance, outdoor fun, diversity, a relaxed ambiance, low barriers to outside participation in the economy, night life, cool tech, an open politics….and so on.

It is encapsulated in the words of the subtitle to a Florida essay in the Washington Monthly: “Why cities without gays and rock bands are losing the economic development race.”

(If all that sounds somewhat familiar it’ll be because you’ve been hanging around with economic development nerds…or, more likely, you caught a whiff of the discussion surrounding last year’s Richard Florida lecture in the Independent/Iberia Bank Lecture Series.)

That’s the category Southern Business and Development thinks Lafayette excels in. It’s a good place to be. It’s fairly easy to see why Lafayette might have ranked. The cool tech factor would be pretty amazing for a major city much less a smaller, laid-back one like Lafayette. The magazine specifically mentions the Fiber To The Home project that is our focus here–and it has to be a nice feature to think that you could tap into your office net at 1 or 200 meg speeds if you want to work from home this week. There’s nothing more laid back than staying home. The food and the music is legendary and if you travel in Zydeco circles you might think tolerance wasn’t obviously a problem. Cajun and Creole cultures are a huge draw–and huge reason why our talented are hesitant to leave. There’s nothing else in the US like Festival International. Francophone music? Really?! From all over the world? Neat indeed.

Sounds pretty good for the hometown…

Of course the effect is spoiled if you scroll to the bottom of the page and read the irrational—and irrelevant—bigotry in the discussion space spouted by some resentful local fool. Talk about leaving a foul taste in the mouth. And putting a stake right through the heart of any feel-good that you might have been harboring. Jeez.

Update: The Advocate also picks up on good publicity the morning after it appeared in the Advertiser. That version points explicitly to Richard Florida and has the following nice fragment:

In naming Lafayette, the magazine pointed out that while the smallest city on its list, “Lafayette keeps strides with the larger metros with the kind of cultural diversity and forward thinking that sets this creative city and parish apart.”

Lafayette Utilities System’s telecommunications project — which will bring an ultra high-speed fiber-optic network to each home and business in the city — is an example of Lafayette’s risk-taking, the magazine wrote.

“Locals still exhibit proudly a ‘wildcatter mentality’ founded on risk taking and entrepreneurial spirit,” the magazine wrote.

So if you need a URL to send those friends from college that you’ve been trying to entice down here for years you can send them this one without fearing that they’ll have to run into evidence that contradicts the upbeat substance of the report.

FLASH! LUS Announces Plans

(Please note: this was first published on April 1st)

LUS has revealed its Fiber to the Home plans!! Daylight savings glitch apparently causes early release of press release.

After a press release dated tomorrow, Monday, 4/2, showed up in PR inboxes across the city calls to LUS and George Graham (from whose office the missive was mailed) confirm its authenticity. The surprise release gives an amazing amount of detail (7 loosely organized pages) about topics the local utility has always deemed “proprietary information.”

Said Huval:

Yes, It’s real…We just decided that since it has become extremely clear that FOI [Freedom of Information] requests that revealed these details were forthcoming we thought, what the heck; just release them. Besides most of this stuff is either obvious or nothing Cox or the phone company can do anything about anyway. Why not let the community know?

Huval declined to elaborate on what was meant by “extremely clear.”

Major points in the release:

  • The initial FTTH network will be gigabit (not 100 megs as previously discussed in the media.)
  • An 802.11n (N!) wireless network will be built alongside the fiber build. Service will be available as an independent purchase but “will be cheaper in the bundle.” “This,” the release says enigmatically, “will be the Digital Divide offering.” (Side note: deploying “N” implies that Tropos will be upgrading their equipment. Presumably LUS knows something we don’t.)
  • Probably associated with the wireless issue: “The CPE [Customer Premise Equipment] will equipped with a wireless node that can act as a repeater.” (I’m not sure I fully understand that but I think I like it.)
  • Confirmation of the widely reported Symmetric Bandwidth feature is given; uploads will as speedy as downloads, making webmasters ecstatic.
  • “Full Intranet Speeds” will be featured. —What Huval calls “peer to peer” speeds. Every customer, regardless of how much they are paying will be able to communicate at the full available speed of Lafayette’s network with any other customer who also has service—usually a large fraction of the gigabit limit. This is also called a “Digital Divide Feature.” (Now you have a reason to buy a new router to replace the 10/100 switch you bought in 2000!)
  • A kitchen sink philosophy prevails: the network will offer POTS (analog phone) and VOIP; Analog and digital cable over dedicated “colors” as well as a full range of IP-based video products. (Legacy services are said to be ” translated in the CPE?”) Three local companies plan to offer “video-enhanced” security products. Related?: “a high-level API for service interoperability will available to entrepreneurs.” (Again, I think I like that.)
  • And NO, they’re still not saying where the build will start. Says Huval: “That really is proprietary. Let ’em guess or sue.”

Extracted from the depths of the seven page, disjointed, pdf:
Video Product News:

  • LUS will purchase membership in both the the traditional small cable video purchasing coop and a similar, emerging, rural telco-oriented coop “insuring a unique range of products.” (As both a phone CLEC and a small, local cable company they apparently meet the membership requirements of both.)
  • An initial offering of nearly 500 cable channels plus “a similar number of IP ‘channel products'” accessible either through the bandwidth product or the cable product menu. (That latter is very interesting and not something I had anticipated.)
  • A discussion with TiVo is in the works for “field trials of a versatile” TiVo-based set top box with “embedded” desktop, browser, and email functions. (Since TiVo is basically a Linux computer, why not go all the way and just let folks use it? That would kill the digital divide computer issue right there.)

Phone News:

  • Video phones will be available from LUS, at no extra charge, when a VOIP plan is purchased due to a “special partnership” with Motorola. (?) It will not work with POTS plans. If your caller does not have video capacity you will be able to use it as a standard phone. (Let’s presume that you can turn off the camera. It’s a cool idea but I bet my wife isn’t the only one to object.)
  • Wifi interoperability is planned. (No mention of cellular interoperability…though that was discussed briefly at the Fiber Forum.)
  • If you take both phone and internet packages you’ll be able to download your voicemail as MP3s and have your email read to you on the phone. “Up to the limits of your tier’s personal space allotment.” What personal space allotment? That is the only place having some online storage a la Google is mentioned. ARRGGH! (The email <--> internet feature makes better sense if the internet component comes with email addresses and the concomitant web space and net interface–as does Cox and BellSouth’s product.)

Internet News:

  • What? You want more news than Gig intranet bandwidth and upload-download symmetry. Greedy you! OK….
  • LUS is planning on implementing IPv6. Mike tells me to be impressed. Consequently, I am.
  • The “Franchise Agreement” (Had forgotten about that? Me too.) will include support for AOC “similar to the current agreement with Cox” and “broadband capacity to support streaming IPTV and VOD functionality within the intranet” as well. (This sounds technical but will sustain AOC’s community functions as the cable model starts to atrophy.)


  • Interoperability: A lot of emphasis throughout the doc is placed on interoperability. The API issue cited near the beginning of this post is part of that as are features pointed out that flash incoming phone calls on the TV, Caller ID, remote login to video recording features, etc.
  • The part on the “Franchise Agreement” mentions support for “Digital Inclusion” (Digital Inclusion is the new “less divisive” phrase for Digital Divide issues. Feel free to roll your eyes.) However, I can’t decipher who will charged with doing this range of tasks.

All very, very interesting — as with any real information it raises more questions than it answers. Stay tuned…..I’m sure this will be even more interesting tomorrow.

To the PDF press release.
Advertiser short