EATel Expands— North, South, and “up”

EATel, The little locally-owned East Ascension Telecomms company that could, is having a good week. Their bid for an East Baton Rouge parish-wide franchise agreement that will move them into the large capital city market was approved last night. They announced the pending acquisition of Vision Communications, an adjacent Lafourche Parish telecommunications company, whose customer base will increase their size by more than a third. And, wait for it: they announced that their first 4G cell towers became operational this week.


Now, on to the inevitable caveats:

1) Re: The EBR franchise. While this is an undeniably good thing for Baton Rouge generally (EATel is building a FTTH network that gets rave reviews) it isn’t at all clear that it will be widely available. According to the Advocate story the firm fought suggestions that it should be required to adhere to the sort of build-out requirements that Cox (but not AT&T) was required sign. Generally build-out requirements mean that the company would be required to serve everyone—not just the most profitable (read wealthy) customers. The only reason that EATel and other telecomm companies have to bother with franchises is that they want to use the public’s resources—the rights of way along roads that the community owns and maintains. The council’s failure to insist on some, eventual, conditioned, form of universal access means that it is unlikely that the full benefits of fiber-based competition will  reach the poorer and/or rural parts of the parish.

2) Re: The expansion down Bayou Lafourche. EATel won’t be building an new network in this area. According to the Daily Comet:

While Eatel has no immediate plans to convert Vision’s network to faster fiber optic, Russell says Vision customers can expect “an upgrade of the network to improve current services.” Those details are not solidified, but Russell said adding high-definition channels and improving Internet speeds are among the possible improvements.

 No fiber. That’s sad. On the other hand the local family-owned company is bound to provide better service and more timely upgrades than the current “venture fund” owners could be bothered with. Note: The Advocate also has a nice story with some additional details.

3) Re: The ongoing upgrade to 4G LTE  in their footprint. No caveats needed. This is an unabashedly good thing—especially as AT&T is notably late to the 4G LTE party. (What AT&T is passing off as 4G is not, by most accounts, the real deal…their HSPA+ version lacks much of what is supposed to come with a real shift to the next generation of wireless—not that AT&T isn’t going to move to LTE…just not quite yet.

EATel’s fiber to move into Baton Rouge

EATel, East Ascension’s locally-owned fiber-based telecoms provider, is set to move into the Baton Rouge market and provide Cox & AT&T some real competition. This would be a tremendous change in that market, especially if the local provider was prepared to build-out beyond the sort of limited cherry-picking that Baton Rouge has seen from AT&T’s “entry.” It is conceivable that parts of Baton Rouge could actually have 3 providers for the full range of telecom services. That’s virtually unheard of.

According to the Baton Rouge Business Report EATel is anxious to get things going and objected to any further delay in granting its franchise citing in part the age of the owner:

“I will be here next time, and I will continue to come until we get the franchise. We’re a family company. Our owner is 84 years old,” Britton said, to which Addison replied, “You can tell your 84-year-old owner that you’ll get it.”

The Business Report story is misleading in at least one respect: it talks about EATel bringing “broadband” competition without mention of either the phone or the video aspects of the service. A quick read of the council agenda item in question reveals that a good bit more is at stake: 

Authorizing the Mayor-President to enter into an agreement with Eatel Video, L.L.C. d/b/a Eatel, to offer multi-protocol broadband platform of voice, data and video/television services (“broadband network”), the video/television component of which is a multi-protocol, two-way interactive, ip-enabled video/television service in the City of Baton Rouge and Parish of East Baton Rouge. By: Parish Attorney.

We’re talking voice, data, and video…the full triple play.

I’ll look forward to hearing the details; it’d be a pity if EATel’s intent was more modest than I am assuming. The company is in of East Ascension south of East Baton Rouge and in Livingston in areas southeast of parish. So it has built up networks in striking range of southern East Baton Rouge Parish. The extent of the build is unknown but it may be worth noting that the Councilman whose concern about FCC regulations appears to have derailed immediate approval represents district 2 in the historically poorer, blacker area of northwest
Baton Rouge. If his concern is that his constituents might not see much benefit from the competition EATel brings that is probably reasonably founded on how little the highly touted “competition” from AT&T reached his constituents.

Regional Fiber UltraBroadband Network in Lousiana?

They’re beating the drum in Baton Rouge on Google’s FTTH (fiber to the home) project. A facebook page, Bring Google Fiber to Baton Rouge,” was launched almost immediately and quickly became the leading Facebook page devoted to the topic. The page reports meetings within the city leadership. Baton Rouge is enthused.

Lafayette’s cadre of pro-fiber partisans are urged to support Baton Rouge’s effort. Join the facebook page and voice your support.

A fibered-up Baton Rouge would create a regional ultra broadband fiber to the home corridor stretching from Gonzalez through Baton Rouge to Lafayette. My back of the napkin calculations using year 2000 census data shows that network would pass around 419,000 people. That would just about double the bang-for-the-buck that Google would receive for fibering up Baton Rouge alone.

It may well be that Baton Rouge’s strongest argument for Google to invest there will be to leverage the spirit already shown by its neighbors.

The number of people effected is no small issue. As Google is undoubtedly aware, the major stumbling block to developing really big pipes here in the US is that building out little pockets here and there do not provide the critical mass of users that would prod application developers and service provider to provide apps and services that make full use of the available bandwidth. If 90% of your audience is limited to 6 megs or less you develop and plan for—maybe—10 megs. Of download. Upload speeds are a fraction of download in most of the country. Everyone knows we want big broadband and symmetrical up and download speeds eventually but we’re caught in a chicken and egg situation and no one wants to go first. Google is playing on this national stage and hopes that dropping half a million people into the pool of those with really big broadband will: First, drive the incumbents to try and match their efforts, particularly if Google can prove that it is not nearly as expensive or daunting a task as the incumbents claim. Secondly Google hopes that by jump starting a market of a half million (and if they have calculated well another 1 or 2 million more to that in incumbent responses) they will have created a tipping point in the development of truly high-speed, low latency, big pipe applications. That would be a GREAT thing for leading-edge communities like Lafayette.

But its not just the number of people effected—it is the density as well. One of the things we know from studies of new tech adoption in the realm of communications is that it is strongly subject to local network effects. Take telephone service. If you are the only subscriber it really is pretty much worthless. The more people take the service the more valuable it becomes. If you can count on everyone having it you can start organizing everyday activities around it and integrating it fully into your social life. That is what Google wants to have happen on its new fiber. Network effects are most powerful within a city or region. Most telephone calls are local and most of the remaining are regional. By ensuring that an entire region, approaching 500,000 people in that area alone, is fully-fibered Google can have the greatest hope of seeding a game-changing demonstration project. (By the way: my prediction is that one of the first high-bandwidth apps to come out of the famous “google labs” complex will be HD video telephony and conferencing for just these reasons. Google Voice HD anyone?)

And wait, wait, there’s more! 🙂

As Lagniappe Google gets to watch 2 distinctly different FTTH providers closely interact with one of its big pipes project. Lafayette is a utility—a municipal FTTH provider. EATel is a classic rural telephone company. Both are offering some of the highest speeds over FTTH in their categories. How do the 3 differing models interact? What form really drives adoption the fastest?

Google’s 1 gig, low-latency pipes will, I believe, drive the development of amazing new gaming, cloud, and communications applications. They could get an awful lot of additional data by building in Baton Rouge and partnering up with EATEL and LUS.

Cox Raises Rates…

The Independent, the Gonzales Weekly Citizen and the Baton Rouge Business Report all have up stories based on a Cox press release that announces rate increases for both cable and internet packages in South Louisiana starting December 8th. Price increases range from 2 to 3 dollars on each effected service…with 1 dollar bumps on some (unspecified) premium packages. So if you get both internet and cable from Cox you’ll be looking at at least $4 on the low end to $6 and up on higher end combos. It would be pretty easy for all those small changes to add up to a substantial surcharge of 10 dollars and more a month and it will be interesting to see a more detailed accounting of the changes.

Merry Christmas!

Details are still murky (expect pieces with some real reporting in tomorrow’s news cycle) and “Along with the channel launches, some channels will move within tiers and into new service levels.” Thats’ pretty vague and sounds like it might mean that some tiers will actually lose channels. At any rate Cox is claiming cost increases in retransmission fees (that refers to fees paid to local stations) and cable channel packages to account for the increases cable side. Nobody is saying why internet has to increase as well.

Cox’s “Ultimate Tier” —that 50/5 tier was introduced in Acadiana to compete with LUS Fiber’s 50/50 tier—is the only internet package that will not see an increase.

(Hmmn…I justed checked the Cox site for Baton Rouge and Gonzales zip codes. Baton Rouge’s announces that you can’t get the Ultimate package there. But in Gonzales, where small local provider EATEL is also providing fiber to the home, the site now shows that Cox is willing to sell the “Ulitmate” service there as well. My…doesn’t Baton Rouge wish that it had something more competitive than AT&T’s UVerse to spur a little competitive energies?)

Cox announced some service increase candy alongside the bitter medicine of a rate increase. Among them are more HD channels, and speed increases on some of the internet tiers. The intent behind announcing them together is, pretty clearly and sensibly enough, to encourage folks to think that Cox is giving you something extra for your money. But they extras don’t line up that neatly: on the cable side the lower-priced tiers and the movie packages get an increase but the higher-priced tiers are the ones that benifit from new HD channels.

Cox has been holding off on price increases in South Louisiana and especially in its Acadiana branch since LUS Fiber came onto the scene but apparently that long drought has ended. Cox is not going to continue to give all of South Louisiana a break just to keep its prices lower in Lafayette. You can look for semi-permenant “special introductory offers” to be given at a drop of the hat if you zip code is right, of course. But those things are time-limited and I doubt many people will be fooled for long.

“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.


I went down to New Orleans last weekend and passed by this in-your-face Eatel “FiberEdge” billboard in Ascension Parish south of Baton Rouge on I-10. “Ascension loves it. Cox hates it.” Whoa! Definitely playing on both localism and the generalized hostility toward the national cable provider. There’s a billboard war going on up and down the interstate between Eatel and Cox—with Eatel definitely the brasher of the two. (This a tradition…remember Eatel’s ads in the Lafayette papers?) So far we’ve not seen much in the way of LUS advertising here. But I’m hoping for something equally spirited.

Of course Cox is already in the field with its advertising and has been since shortly after the last lawsuit failed and the bonds were sold. We’ve even seen a few that seem localized in that they refer to fiber–but probably draw off what Cox is learning it needs to do in the Northeast where it faces Verizion’s network which actually is fiber (all the way, all the way, all the way to the home) This bit of deliberately misleading advertising is found on Evangeline Thruway not far from my house and is particularly irksome. Cox is trying to lay claim to the very “fiber” that they so vigorously opposed our actually getting. Sure Cox—and AT&T and every other provider in the nation—uses fiber in the backbone where it provides unrivaled speed, lower maintenance, and huge capacity. Those are precisely the qualities that we’re now going to get all the way to our homes with LUS Fiber. There’s nothing particularly unusual, much less “advanced” about backbone fiber. Fiber To The Home, on the other hand is actually advanced and is something Cox is still insisiting we don’t need. FUD advertising aside.

I’m looking for that LUS message that would look good on a billboard I’ve picked out about a mile down Evangeline: “Providing Lafayette with real fiber—At Last”

New Orleans’ Wi-Fi Gone

It’sa gone pecan….or less colloquially and jocularly: sic transit gloria.

New Orleans’ Earthlink WiFi network, launched with much fanfare as the leading edge of public-private partnership in muni networking in the days after Katrina is gone–completely. As Earthlink abandons its network of city-wide wireless networks New Orleans will not be left with even the truncated, city-services-only networks of Corpus Christi or Milpitas, Calif. In those cities Earthlink was able to give the networks to the city and cut its loses. But in New Orleans neither the city nor anyone else apparently was willing to take it. Earthlink will remove its networking equipment as it folds shop in the Big Easy.

This is the last whimper of a story that started out bravely. One of the shining moments of New Orleans municipal government after the storm (and there were shining moments) was the way it hacked together a working telecommunications system in the hours after the storm passed through by quickly repurposing a network of wifi connected cameras to serve basic police, fire, and emergency communications—long before BellSouth (now AT&T) began to get itself back together.

As the city stumbled to its feet it announced that it would use that network, expanded by volunteer workers and donated equipment, to provide basic voice and data communications for its citizens who BellSouth and Cox admitted would be without phone and data service for many months. (At right a Washington Post graphic from a story showing the core of the city unserved three months after Katrina.) For several months battered New Orleans could proudly claim to own North America’s only big-city wifi cloud. BellSouth and Cox ignobly objected, using as a basis Louisiana’s (un)Fair Competition Act; a law that BellSouth had recently pushed through the state legislature in an attempt to first prevent and then to at least cripple Lafayette’s plan to build a fiber optic network. (A plan which has since come to fruition.) The incumbents demanded that the city jump through a series of legal hoops meant to make it all but impossible to build community-owned telecommunications networks and, in any case, to delay ones progress indefinitely. New Orleans, lead by a former Cox executive, bravely refused to be cowed, cited emergency exemptions, and—backed by Governor Blanco—continued to provide the basic services private corporations were unable to quickly restore to the community.

BellSouth and Cox eventually, of course, got their way when emergency regulations expired and the Louisiana legislature refused to reform the law in light of post-Katrina realities. New Orleans turned its community-owned network over to Earthlink who had entered the municipal market aggressively. But then the public-private muni network bubble burst when the limitations of wireless networks in general and WiFi networks in particular became obvious.

The only large muni network still standing is, as far as I know, Minneapolis’. There the city owns the network and provides substantial anchor tenant fees to the locally-based operator and builder who, in exchange for a long exclusive lease shouldered the expense of construction. (Interestingly for close watchers of Lafayette’s network, the city started with a substantial fiber ring and factored in an extensive expansion of that fiber network as part of the bid specs for building the wireless network. Minneapolis owns a fiber backhaul backbone for its network–which may well be part of the explanation for its generally acknowledged above-par network performance.) Retaining ownership of the network was not a path open to New Orleans as BellSouth’s law forced an outright sale. For the same reason, New Orleans could not take the network back and run it or and lease it to a private provider as Minneapolis has successfully done. We’ll have to see if the lack of municipal competition will result in the bevy of new services for New Orleans and Cox and AT&T have claimed would result from eliminating “unfair” municipal competition or whether, just perhaps, places like East Ascension parish and Lafayette where small local providers –public and private– are going up against the big boys are the places where good deals and new services are rolled out first. Anyone want to bet on whose populace actually gets the better deal?

The last act for New Orleans brave WiFi experiment has now played out. In substantial part it ran aground on the implacable opposition of Cox/AT&T, the irresponsibility of the state legislature, and the poor business planning of Earthlink. Sic transit gloria

AT&T, Cox: Our favorite flavor is Cherry/Red

This week’s edition of the Baton Rouge Business Report contains an informative story about the spirited battle that EATEL is waging against Cox on the eastern edge of the privately-held cable giant’s central Louisiana market footprint.

One comment that immediately jumped out was that the competition between EATEL (with its superior fiber network) and Cox (with its very deep corporate pockets) has prompted an in-your-face element of competition that neither the locally-owned phone company (EATEL) nor the Atlanta-based cable company (Cox) is accustomed to using:

Brad Supple, the director of sales and marketing with EATEL, says the ads represent the first time they’ve countered the competition in such an aggressive fashion. Cox says it’s a first for them, too; the companies have battled for customers for nearly three years.

EATEL’s most aggressive move (detailed in the BRBR article) was the running of ads in Lafayette informing Cox customers here about the special bargain rates Cox was trying to limit to the market in east Ascension Parish, where it competes head-to-head with EATEL.

The ad has been discussed here before, but there is news in the article and it deals with the flavors of the video franchise bills up for consideration in the current session of the Louisiana Legislature.

For starters, it quotes Cheryl McCormick of the Louisiana Cable and Telecommunications Association (LCTA) for noting that one of the three bills up this session dealing with video is actually the LCTA’s bill (HB 869); the other two (House Bill 1009 and Senate Bill 422) are AT&T’s bills and would create the statewide video franchise.

The real news, however, comes from a woman who once held McCormick’s job but now works as Cox’s vice president of government and public affairs, Sharon Kleinpeter. Commenting on AT&T’s push for passage of statewide video franchise legislation here, Kleinpeter confirmed a point made here recently — specifically, AT&T and the state’s largest cable provider are engaged in a carefully choreographed effort to relieve both elements of this communications duopoly from current legal requirements to serve all segments of the communities where local franchise agreements now exist.

Here’s the money passage:

While AT&T’s earlier efforts to get statewide authority have failed, Kleinpeter says Cox doesn’t oppose it as long as it can also get options that would free the company from 55 20-year and 30-year franchises it has in 13 parishes, which have more stringent provisions. So far, AT&T hasn’t agreed to the move, which she says would otherwise give Cox a competitive advantage. Talks are under way on this issue.

This is the Cherry/Red flavor of regulation they love.

That is, both AT&T and Cox (and other Louisiana cable providers) want the ability to provide services only in those neighborhoods where they believe they can make the highest rate of return and not have to provide services, say, all over Lafayette Parish as would be the case under the terms of the current franchise agreement here (and in, the article says, 55 other parts of the state).

They want to be able to legally cherry pick what they consider the best neighborhoods and legally redline those that they want to ignore. Thus, Cherry/Red.

Stunts, Scams & Sirens

The recent — but thus far not detailed — franchise agreement the AT&T signed with Baton Rouge is a public relations stunt, coming as it did on the heels of the recently-announced Cox rate increase. If the statewide video franchise legislation passes, the Baton Rouge/AT&T agreement will be meaningless. The statewide video franchise legislation would lift all local requirements included in that mysterious document before any of it took effect — and, I’ll wager, before AT&T spends a penny on new services in the Baton Rouge market.

This clever dance that these two corporate giants are staging for us is an elaborate flim-flam. The fact is that this legislation will not bring new competition to Louisiana. How do we know this? Because similar legislation has not brought competition to Texas, North Carolina or Ohio.

But, the Louisiana version of this legislation will do long term damage to at least the 55 communities with franchise agreements by allowing companies like Cox and AT&T to discriminate against low- and middle-income neighborhoods in the delivery of modern network services. For that reason it is particularly disheartening to see the head of the Louisiana chapter of the NAACP fall for the competition scam at the heart of this legislation.

The Louisiana Legislature is being bamboozled by AT&T and the big cable companies which are acting in concert to get legal permission to leave significant portions of this state on the far side of the digital divide. “Competition” is a sirens’ call that is only being used to convince our tech-illiterate legislators to sell out the hopes and aspirations of Louisiana citizens and communities to become full participants in the network-dependent global economy.

This legislation serves no other interests but those of the phone and cable companies. It is terrible policy for Louisiana citizens, consumers and communities. Rate relief will not come, but a widened gap between the tech haves and have-nots will.

Count on it.

Is EATEL stealing Durel’s Idea?

EATEL is making waves by taking out full page ads in the Lafayette Advertiser advocating that the citizens of Acadiana take an offer that Cox would rather offer only to EATEL’s customers. There was another full page ad in Wednesday’s Advertiser and, according to the Independent, radio spots should start soon.

It’s a daring idea to spend your own money to promote your opponent’s good deals.

But maybe not entirely original: the idea was first floated right here in Lafayette by our own Mayor Durel just before the fiber referendum:

Durel commented on the possibility that Cox Communications and BellSouth could cut rates by as much as $30 to keep customers.

“If they lower their rates that much, I’ll take a full ad out in Baton Rouge and say, ‘You, too, can have these rates,'” Durel said. “I’ve talked to people around town, and if they can lower your rates by $30, what do you think they’ve been doing to you for 15 or 20 years?” (emphasis mine)

Indeed, that bears thinking about: either Cox can afford to take a 50% cut on its regular price and still turn a profit (in which case why are they charging you so outrageously now and pretending your price increases are all the fault of channel costs?) OR they are offering the promotion at below cost in order to drive EATEL out of the business (which would be a classic case of predatory pricing). You takes your pick. Neither says anything good about Cox. The Mayor had a real point back in ’05. Take a look for yourself, the story can be scrounged up via the wayback machine. There’s even a nostalgic BellSouth ad preserved on the page. The story brings back memories of the time and the fiery character of the Mayor.

Lagniappe Durel Nostalgia:

These “scare tactics,” such as negative advertising, false information and promotion of current technology, are geared to create doubt, he said.

“They are desperately trying to defend a horse-and-buggy technology in a supersonic age,”

“It’s a dream come true. I could hope for nothing more. It’s a dream come true if there’s a price war. Our citizens win.”

Those were the days….

“What’s the Deal?” Cox & EATEL

The Independent picks up the EATEL ad in Sunday’s Advertiser we reported on earlier. Reporter Nathan Stubbs gets on the phone and tries to get the half price deal Cox is publicizing only in Ascension and southern Livingston parishes. Initially he’s given the runaround but after checking in with EATel’s Communications Manager gets the secret password: “Special Promotion R-123” he is offered access to the deal.

More fun: the Independent reporter was able to bargain the price down further by not taking phone or HBO….though Cox is certainly not required to go that far in order to meet its legal obligations to offer promotions fairly throughout its area. It certainly seems logical to allow this base price to be the starting point if you want to add on channels or tiers at the regular price as one would normally do.

And, what’s more Cox is claiming that you don’t have to sign a yearly contract. That’s nifty. The Cox phone rep tells the IND that they “don’t do conracts” and a quick review of the local website seems to bear that out. But Cox certainly does demand contracts for special deals in other parts of the country and has here in the past. (A Cox attempt to tempt small businesses into a 3-year contract with a paltry 3% discount was especially noteworthy.) So it’s interesting that they aren’t doing that any longer in this locale—where LUS has, from the very beginning said it would not require any kind of contract. It sounds like pricing is not the only concession Cox is making to the specter of local competition.

For those of you out there that take advantage of this deal, remember who to thank: the little local fiber competition that could, EATEL and LUS. Nobody is getting a deal like this in New Orleans. Or in Los Angeles, for that matter.