Community Vs Corporate Broadband

Muninetworks has a great new video up…and Lafayette gets a cameo role.

What’s great about this video is that it manages to distill almost all the relevant factors into a single visual. (Designers take note.) Cost, upload speeds, download speeds, and makes clear that community broadband’s superiority is literally on a different scale.

Hats off to the folks at muninetworks!

Here’s a similar graphic that I worked up for Lafayette a few months ago…it compares the everyday price, upload, and download parameters to give an at-a-glance comparison of the value of LUS fiber and its competitors. (Click for a larger, clearer image)

AT&T (green), Cox (red) and LUS Fiber (blue)

As is easy to see, LUS beats the competition hands down.

A rant against the all-mobile utopians

What he said:

Fiber Evolution: “In which I rant against the all-mobile utopians

Benoît Felten rants against the silly ideas associated with mobile utopianism. Some of those, like the idea that mobile networks can under any conceivable use case substitute for wireline for more than a small minority of people you’ll be familiar with from these pages. But Benoit has a knack for cutting to the most fundamental points…He’s right that there simply isn’t enough bandwidth to keep that many bits flying. But the most profound point is that mobile networks don’t even exist. Good point. What’s called a mobile network is, for almost all the miles a message covers, fiber or copper wireline. Only the last, small cell—small and getting smaller as user density/bandwidth demand ramps up— transit the “airwaves.”

As always: Fiber First.

FiberFete 2010 on Vimeo

The Fiber Fete videos are up on Vimeo…production took a while but they are up now, look great and are certainly worth visiting—or revisiting. Thanks go out to Eric Credeur who did the work of editing.

If you didn’t get the chance to go to the conference, now’s your chance. And even if you did now you can revisit the presentations and think through what was said. That’s what I plan to do…The quality of the presentations was really impressive. As I review I’ll post any notes worth sharing.

WBS: “Fabulous Lafayette”

Francois Benoit, who works out of France and runs the blog Fibervolution blog, has posted a review of Fiber Fete—and Lafayette. Benoit was caught in the initial ash cloud shut-down of European airspace and missed the first half of the event. But he has caught the gist of the story told by that event. Perhaps because of that he’s created a very careful overview of the conference.

Some tidbits from the post:

Lafayette has understood and internalised the fact that they will only reap the benefits from the infrastructure they are building if they make it happen. Field of Dreams is just a movie…

More widely, ubiquitous very high speed connectivity is a game changer for business and society. David Weinberger did a very good speech exploring the implications of ubiquitous fiber on economy and society. The hurdles are not in deploying the infrastructure, they are in changing the ecosystem that currently relies on sub-par connectivity for its interactions…

All in all, this was a great event. It was also unique in that a lot of room was left for discussions, both one on one and collectively….I’m looking forward to Fiberfete 2011. Hopefully by then Lafayette will have some early examples of “cool and wonderful things to do with fiber”, other cities will have learned that Google didn’t pick them and look at Lafayette on what to do…

I found Benoit’s own talk—on the lessons to be learned from the success of Apple’s app store—very intriguing.

There’s lots to look forward to.

(What’s Being Said Dept.)

“FiberFete Celebrates City’s Fight To Build Its Own Information-Age Utility”

WBS dept.

Broadband Breakfast has a short story up lauding today’s launch of Fiber Fête.

Lafayette gets good press:

The city floated $110 million in municipal bonds in 2005, fought telecommunications companies that cried foul over the move, and proceeded to build the network in addition to a sophisticated 3D imaging center used by Hollywood movie companies to render their animated films into 3D images.

“We had a unique opportunity because we have our own utility company that already had a fiber optic loop that was already in the wholesale end of this business,” says Durel. “This project was about doing something great and raising the bar.”

There are interesting blips about the purpose of the event:

“What Lafayette can show to the world is how to create a network that’s just about state of the art, and that the whole community supports,” explains David Isenberg, FiberFête’s co-organizer along with journalist Geoff Daily. Isenberg is a long-time advocate of such community-driven telecommunications networks. “Lafayette’s leadership also realizes that they need help, that you can’t just hang the fiber on the poles and miracles will happen – they know there’s a lot of expertise out there, and they’re hoping to bring people with a clue into town.”

….The conference is a timely one since the Obama Administration has just released its National Broadband Plan, a national blueprint for how America can stay competitive in the global race to get connected to anyone else in the world through high-speed internet networks. Durel hopes that the city can serve as a model for other cities around the nation.

There’s a lot to learn. It’s an interesting world….

Fiber Fête Press Release

Fiber Fete issued a press release this morning and posted it to their website…exciting stuff!

I am jazzed about this event. If you go browse through the agenda you’ll see some of the of the most exciting names in their fields nationally and internationally. To name off a few: Jim Baller (US), Benoit Felten (France), Joaquin Alvarado (US), Herman Wagter (Netherlands), Minnie Ingersoll (US), Bas Boorsma (Netherlands), Lev Gonick (US), Dirk van der Woude (Netherlands), David Weinberger (US). Googling any of these names will impress you….I am extremely eager to hear, for instance, what Weinberger has to say about the effects of ubiquitously available fiber. Minnie Ingersoll is a Product Manager for the Google Gigabit Project.

How much the ash cloud hanging over Europe will effect some people’s ability to attend remains an open question, as is the possibility of bringing them in via streaming video. But in any event the quality of the national and international speaker list is truly amazing. And it is doubly exciting that they are convening in Lafayette.

The release:

FiberFête Conference Launches Tuesday
Technology and Community Leaders to Dream up Possibilities for Our Most Wired Cities

LAFAYETTE, La. (Apr. 19) – FiberFête, a conference featuring Internet innovators from around the world, will be held April 20-22 at Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) in Lafayette. FiberFête celebrates Lafayette’s deployment of a community-owned fiber network and explores the potential of fiber-powered communities.

FiberFête brings global technology entrepreneurs and activists together with local community leaders to explore how fiber networks can help other cities like Lafayette enhance economic development, community participation and quality of life.

“The people of Lafayette have led the country in equipping their community with fiber,” says FiberFête co-producer Geoff Daily. “Now they’re committed to driving the conversation around what innovative things fiber can enable them to do.”

Welcoming FiberFête guests Tuesday will be Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Stephen Moret and Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel. “We have a story to tell, to share with America and the world,” says Durel. “The future of fiber optic networking isn’t a dream. For us, it’s a reality, it’s here, it’s working, and it’s an example of what is not only possible, but of what will be the future in America.”

FiberFête speakers include representatives from Google, Cisco, Harvard University and Case Western Reserve University, as well as municipal officials from Seattle and San Francisco. A full agenda is available online at

While an invitation-only event, FiberFête is also open to the world live via the Internet. Viewers may access the webcast online at Coverage will run from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. CST Tuesday, April 20 and from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 21.

FiberFête is distinct from other international broadband conferences in that it is sponsored by the community in support of its own network infrastructure. FiberFête is funded wholly by a diverse coalition of local public and private partners.

Fiber Fête – live streaming video!

Fiber Fête is going to be streamed live. So if you can’t attend in person hie yourself to the nearest computer screen in your favorite screening venue. If you’ve got a special interest on the agenda it’d be worthwhile to pull together some of your friends with a similar fixation and view it together. Happily, you can even set up a late-night viewing. By the miracle of time-shifting Livestream allows you to catch up by visiting the site at a later date and viewing the events at your leisure.

“Tech efforts getting noticed”

Sunday’s Advertiser carried a story that —as my father might have said—”Does Lafayette proud.” I recommend locals and fans give the full story a read. The article hangs its hook on Kit Becnel’s Academy of Information Technology (AOIT). A school within a school at Carencro High, AOIT prepares students for careers in the broad field of information technology and is affiliated with the national academy foundation. AOIT is a leader in the national academy and its leadership sits on several committees driving changes in the national program. The award cited in the story was actually given to Louisiana Public Broadcasting and showcases several of Lafayette’s tech jewels including LUS Fiber, LITE, AOC, and AOIT:

Louisiana Public Broadcasting partnered with Lafayette Utility System, Bay Area Video Coalition and Louisiana Immersive Technologies Enterprise (LITE) to enhance technology and instruction at Carencro High School. This project provided more bandwidth to the school, expanding instruction to include creation of 3-D models and training students for careers in technology.

But beyond AOIT’s award the article also delves into Durel, Huval, and Bertrand’s recent appearance at Google’s DC headquarters. Not surprisingly, since attendees at that conclave included the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Bay Area Video Coalition, and the CIO of San Francisco AOIT’s reputation was already well-known.

…many of those invited to the event at Google’s headquarters already knew about the academy and Becnel’s work.”The pioneering spirit exists in Lafayette with our LUS Fiber and the work and energy of people like Ms. Becnel,” Bertrand said at the meeting. “You’re going to hear her name again and you’re going to hear it a lot. The entire United States is envious of what we’ve done. It’s no small feat.”

Also in this mix is Acadiana Open Channel (AOC) who is providing support and training for AOIT. Part of the conversation

The invitation-only event in D.C. was a workshop on broadband and the public interest, and was co-presented by the Ford Foundation and the Paley Center for Media….”Their purpose was to talk about how digital public media networks should advance in broadband and enrich connected communities,” Huval said…

Lafayette officials discussed LUS Fiber, including how it is used in all Lafayette Parish public schools and is expected to be throughout the whole city by this summer. As the infrastructure portion of it nears completion, Huval said the focus will turn toward how fiber can be applied in both schools and the community.

That last (my emphasis) is what the community is waiting to hear. The benefits to education through the school system and to public media through AOC are simply the entering edge of the wedge.

The dreams continue to come…Huval, widely know for his prowess on the fiddle and his advocacy of Cajun culture, tossed out this one which will surely resonate with Lafayette’s Creole and Cajun communities:

“You could have the ability for a French immersion school to work on a project with students in Paris, France, and have this real-life collaboration,” Huval said. “The technology now allows you to have the exchange of ideas and understanding that you could only get in-person before. This is only the beginning. To have this little oasis of Lafayette, La. have the ability to do these kinds of things is really exciting for a lot of people.”

Perhaps unknown to Huval the futuristic dream of cross-cultural francophone educational collaboration is already being realized in a project organized by WSIL (World Studies Institute of Louisiana). The pilot project, underway currently, connects classrooms in New Brunswick, Louisiana, and Haiti. Students and their teacher collaborate through Lafayette Commons, a Lafayette nonprofit that supplies the educational edition of Google Apps and support to the project.

The benefit of a community-owned fiber-optic telecommunications system to Lafayette and communities like Lafayette lies less in the technology than in the fact of public ownership. Having built our own network we can now choose to do things to benefit the people and community institutions.

Building our network was the first step—and that is nearing completion. Taking the resource of our new network and firing up the process of doing something useful with it was the next step. That process has already begun.

(full disclosure: I sit on the board of AOC, the advisory board of AOIT, and help supply services via Lafayette Commons to WSIL’s project.)

Lagniappe: LUS and Lafayette have applied for the Google Gig FTTH project; apparently as a direct result of conversations held at the meeting in DC according to an exchange I had with Huval…more on that surprise when I get a little time.

“Cabling America: Fibre in paradise”

The Economist, Britian’s venerable and well-respected newsmagazine, reports on Bristol Virginia’s BVU and its FTTH project. Long-time readers will recall Bristol, Virginia: claims that BVU was a failure were a regular and regularly ugly feature of the fiber fight here (summary). The truth was that Bristol was very successful, the first municipal utility to offer the triple play, and has done extremely well for its community. The Economist points this out, emphasizing the rural nature of the location and the jobs it brought to its Appalachian corner of Virginia.

It’s satisfying to see Bristol being recognized as an economic success by the Economist.

It’s also a treat to read the Economist—the weekly news magazine is known for its unusual combination of tight, fact-filled language and light-hearted tone. The reader is encouraged to read through the article for themselves just to reassure themselves that it really can be done. The following is offered up as an example of clean reasoning that will resonate with Lafayette readers:

Should cities be in the business of providing fast internet access? It depends on whether the internet is an investment or a product. BVU could not afford to maintain its fibre backbone without selling the internet to consumers. And it could not build a subscriber base without offering cable television and a telephone line as well; households these days expect a single price for all three services…. Fibre is expensive, and a purely commercial business would not have been minded to pay for it.

All this is true for much of rural America, and it is an analogue of the reason why municipal utility companies were launched in the first place: to electrify thinly-populated areas where commercial utilities would not go.

Good stuff.

(via Christopher Mitchell @

OneWebDay Celebration in Lafayette @ LITE, and via Webcast

Tommorrow—September 22nd—is “One Web Day” and it will be celebrated in grand style here in Lafayette. One Web Day celebrates the power of internet connectivity and will be observed in cities throughout the world. From the national press release:

OneWebDay was founded in 2006 as an all-volunteer campaign to build a constituency for the Internet in the United States and around the world. Originally imagined as a celebration of the World Wide Web – the services and content the Internet carries – OneWebDay has grown into a movement of organizations, citizens and consumers who are committed to universal and equal access to the Internet. Now in its fourth year, OneWebDay has a full-time Executive Director, powerful new partners and will see events in 50 cities across the globe.

Given that drive toward “universal and equal access” it is no surprise that Lafayette has one of the marquee events, and given the local joie de vie, no surprise that it involves some fun:

In the U.S., 9/22 events include: a documentary and discussion on copyright in Milwaukee; a broadband policy panel Washington, DC; a New York City rally with an Iranian political activist; elected officials and a Cajun band in Lafayette; a forum with Mitch Kapor in Berkeley; a Philadelphia panel on that city’s broadband grant.

The release goes on to quote internet sage Mitch Kapor as saying in reference to this year’s theme:

“Ultimately, we want to ensure that anyone who wants it has access to the Internet and, importantly, the skills they need to fully participate. The ability to access and use a fast, affordable, and open Internet is essential for every student, every entrepreneur, and every citizen who wants full access to our government and the democratic process,” said Kapor.

That’s the serious purpose…Ah, but the local fun…what of that? —From the local press release:

Lafayette, LA – On September 22nd as the world honors OneWebDay, Lafayette, LA will step up to add its voice to the chorus of gatherings across the country and around the globe with an event of its own, a celebration of Lafayette’s connectivity, culture, community, and innovative spirit.

This event will take place at the LITE Center, starting at 5:30pm with a reception in the lobby that will include free beer and wine, and continuing on from 6-7:30pm with a multimedia program in the main auditorium.

This program will feature a series of speakers talking about Lafayette’s commitment to becoming a hub city for broadband innovation, including City-Parish President Joey Durel, LUS Director Terry Huval, UL President Dr. Savoie, UL Provost Steve Landry, AoIT director Kit Becnel, LEDA Chairman Tom Cox, LITE CEO Henry Florsheim, Firefly Digital owner Mike Spears, and local big thinker John St. Julien.

In addition to the speakers, this event will feature a live Cajun band that will help showcase Lafayette’s rich culture.

The event will also be webcast out onto the Internet for the world to tune into to get a better idea of the exciting things happening in America’s most wired and inspired community. Tune in to learn about Lafayette’s cutting edge full fiber network, its commitment to establishing models for the next generation of education, and to supporting the development of 21st century businesses.

To watch the webcast, go to at 6pm Central on Sept 22nd.

Ok, I admit to being embarassed by this big thinker thing—but that’s what you get for practicing the trade without a real title…on the other hand everyone should be reassured to note that I know for a fact that the speakers have been sternly told to keep their remarks to five minutes—so nobody will have to put up with much of it.

More seriously, it’s great to see such broad local support for the ideals expressed by the OneWebDay Coalition; it is a set of ideas well worth supporting.

Come and celebrate the fun! Preferably in person, but if disability of location keeps you from making it please grab the webcast from AOC.

Update 9/25/09: The webcast of the event is up for “asynchronous” viewing at AOC’s UStream account and interested readers might want to review the Advocate’s coverage.