Cox finalizes netbook donations

Both the Advertiser and the Advocate had stories this morning about Cox’s donation of laptops to kids in the GEARUP program. The Advertiser’s was a brief story about Cox completing their commitment to provide the netbooks and internet connectivity to those student’s families who don’t already have it but it’s not visible on the web (see p. 3A of the print version).

The Advocate version is longer and updates an earlier version of the story from back in July when the commitment was announced. That story detailed an earlier donation by Cox and other in-town efforts to bring access to more people—private donations and two grants were applied for by LCG/LUS. LPF reviewed the story then. Neither of the grants were won.

Interestingly, the Cox press release from July used the term “bridging the digital divde” and the most recent Advocate story repeated that phrase. That’s only a catch-phrase here in Lafayette where the LUS-sponsored Digital Divide Committee back before the fiber referendum produced a document entitled “Bridging the Digital Divide” encouraged a multi-pronged attack on the problem. One of its recommendations was for a general free or reduced-cost computer program for those that qualified and were willing to “get invested” via education and/or a willingness to give back by educating others. While the educational initiatives Cox is pursuing are not at that scale they are a start. Good for Cox. And Lafayette.

LUS Fiber Commercial Released

The draft video I reviewed on July 27th has been released unchanged by Joey Durel into general circulation. I think it is safe to assume that this is the version that will soon be showing up on local TV sets. You can now see it on the site.

I hope we’ll start seeing the ad, and the the campaign for which it sets the tone, soon. This should be the start of the promised major media advertising push.

LUS Yard Signs

From LUS’ Facebook page:

LUS Fiber Congrats to Hugh Mouton, LUS Fiber Customer of the Week! He’ll get $50 worth of bill credits for displaying his yard sign. Thank you Mr. Mouton, and all of our LUS Fiber customers!

Now isn’t that sign just a great idea! The perfect sentiment, isn’t it? And a great way to get friends and neighbors asking about the service. I certainly think so…and thought so back when Pat Ottinger got his service put in. (Tongue planted firmly in cheek.)

I’m not asking anything for my marketing expertise but I do want one of those signs!

PS: But I want one of the second printing…you know, the one that includes the website for their fiber-optic service.

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Brief: Lafayette’s Digital Divide Applications are in

Not exactly exciting news but interesting to some of us nonetheless…Both of Lafayette’s latest applications for stimulus money are now appearing on the’s database of Louisiana projects. They are listed as “application received.”

What’s new is that you can now get a look at the “executive summary” of both the Lafayette Parish Public Computer Centers and the Lafayette Students Build-a-Computer Program projects. Interesting reading—they not only summarize the projects but lay out what the writers believe is the best case for giving Lafayette the grants. For instance, the Build a Computer Program cites the need revealed by a recent, and as yet unreleased, local survey of internet use and attitudes.

FUD..It’s the same all over

The Free Utopia blog out of Utah posts a note that rings familiarly in the ears of Lafayette’s citizens. That complaint concerns a flyer mailed to the residents of Brigham City by their local astroturf/disinformation group, the Utah Taxpayers Association. It goes out at the last minute in advance of a city-council vote that seems destined to approve a way to allow any citizen in the city who wants to take advantage of the quality and savings of a community-owned fiber optic network to do so.

That’s gotta remind us locally of the last-minute disinformation flyer mailed to every household in Lafayette by our own disinformation group just before the fiber referendum. It too was filled with FUD—Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. And the cherry on top of that was what was perhaps the most egregious bit of “lying by taking out of context” that I’ve ever seen in a published piece.

In some ways the issue in Brigham City is even more outrageous than it was here…in Lafayette the disinformation flyer was timed to confuse the community throw sand in the process of approval that by that points seemed to all reasonable observers to be already over — Lafayette was clearly going to approve fiber and, shortly thereafter, did. In Brigham City the idea is to confuse the citizens and to give the council members grief about a different foregone conclusion. To wit: Brigham City the city has already committed to funding the basic infrastructure buildout for the regional community network “UTOPIA”—the financial obligation had been taken on years ago. (Keep that firmly in mind: The city is already fully committed to supporting the network, nothing that happens now can undo that.) All that is going on now is that 30% of the citizens, who want fiber NOW rather than sometime down the line when UTOPIA gets to them have asked to plunk down $3000 of their own money to get fiber from the community-owned alternative NOW. This does absolutely nothing to increase the indebtedness of Brigham City and, in fact, it takes a big potential burden off the rest of the citizenry by taking most of the city’s indebtedness and passing it on to that subset of users…the $3000 dollars will be used finance most of the city’s debt.

So what is the “Utah Taxpapers Association” up to? FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Why? Why should a “taxpayer” group complain if most of the burden of paying for a community resource is shifted from the whole community to 30% of it who willingly, eagerly take it on? What could possibly be wrong from the taxpayers point of view? The answer is that it just doesn’t make sense. When something makes so little sense a reasonable person looks beyond the FUD an asks more the more fundamental question: Who benefits from this kind of misleading fear-mongering, who would pay the expense of such a flyer? And the answer is, as it was here in Lafayette, to follow the money: it is the incumbents, who would initially lose 30% of their installed base and in the end no doubt many more. In Brigham City those incumbents are Comcast cable and Qwest telephone.

It’s the same all over.

$50.00 netbook available at Radio Shack

Ok, so the fine print reads:

With qualifying new 2-year AT&T agreement on rate plans $60/mo. or more. $349.99 unactivated.

Still, you get a real computer with connectivity built in. On the downside you’re tied to AT&T and I don’t see any other connectivity option listed in the specs on the Radio Shack page…an otherwise very similar Acer machine is an Aspire which you can find for as little $280.00 online which has both ethernet and basic wifi built in.

That’s for a netbook with an 8.9″ screen…Netbooks are all the rage this year but are putting a serious crimp in the profit margins for the companies who are selling them.

In roughly the same areana is the almost-confirmed-rumor that Apple is about to announce a tablet computer —a ten inch touchpad that would be a cross between a Macbook laptop and an iphone/ipod touch device…some rumors place it as a Verizon network offering that would be subsidized by Verizon in the same fashion that the iPhone and this Acer laptop are being subsidized by AT&T.

The point for denizens of Lafayette and digiterati more generally is that the price of Network Attached Devices (NADs) continues to fall and the innovation bonanza spurred by the iPhone is still ongoing. Smart phone and computer convergence continue apace. Here in Lafayette with wireless networks in the offing by both Cox and LUS there’ll be a place to try such inexpensive networked devices in a real-world context with “regular folks.” And, of course, further close the digital divide.

The downside of all these nifty new devices is that nobody can “eat just one.” Everyone with two computers or a computer and a smart phone has already encountered the biggest problem with having more than one shiny, nifty communications device: keeping the #$@@** things synched. The iPhone does a pretty reliable job of this nowadays—as long as you remember to synch. The way around remembering to synch is to use a centralized online storage and backup system that synchs copies from all to all whenever you’re connected. None of these, to my knowledge are all that reliable. (.mac is often seen as best of breed; a sorry comment if true I can tell you.) A third, related, way to simplify things is to move most of your life online to one of the cloud server systems like Google Apps where no synching is really required; the docs live online first and any local copy pulled down to work on offline via Gears is always the ‘copy.’

Lafayette Commons, running on a Google Apps platform will be an good way to simplify and centralize you online life across multiple devices and platforms when it formally launches. Watch this space. (Yes, a teaser on LPF…will surprises never end. 🙂 )

Interesting times.

Media Roundup: LUS Fiber Launches

All the local media have at least a short reaction to yesterday’s surprise evening launch of Lafayette’s Fiber To The Home network branded “LUS Fiber.” If you’d like to cruise through the regional media outlets, here is the quick click list: The Advertiser, The Advocate, KATC, KLFY.

The Advertiser, while still resolutely refusing to acknowledge that there was anything more than “discussion” involved in the battle to secure Lafayette’s network, has a good story laying out the basics and even better (online only) sidebars with a wealth of specific info. The juiciest bits for those hungry for the service might be the hints at how fast the “soft rollout” might pick up. Says Huval:

Beginning today, LUS will begin mailing out notices to customers in the first phase of the controlled rollout to let them know how to sign up for the services.

“What we will do is in the beginning stages, we’re going to be putting a smaller number of invitations out there to customers,” Huval said. “We want to make sure we continue to learn the process and give them time to make their decisions. As we get more proficient at it, we’re going to pick up the pace.”

Huval said he expects the number of mailouts to gradually increase in the next month or so, and LUS Fiber should be moving at its maximum pace shortly after that.

Also of note, from the comments section at 9:51 this morning:

Between phone and internet (ATT) and cable( Cox HD/DVR and all digital tiers and HBO/Starz) I am paying $217 per month. The VIP gold package at $199 offers over 10 times faster internet and all the movie channels. There are a few differences, but none that I noticed would affect my viewing. If I changed a few things I’m sure my savings would be much larger, but right now it is a no brainer for me to switch. I can’t wait until I get the card in the mail that my street is active. I won’t have any problem dumping Cox and ATT (who is now Yahoo internet).

I need to try to figure out a similar comparison for my situation . . . .

The Advocate polls in with its own story and adds a tidbit about the projected wait between ordering service and switching on the new service and how that will change over time:

Huval said interested residents should wait until a card arrives in the mail announcing availability.

He anticipates there will initially be a two-week turnaround from the time a resident calls to when service is connected.

“It will be slow to begin with and then faster as it goes,” Huval said.

The Advocate also posts a rather dry quote from mayor Durel (I’m missing that ol’ time testifying):

“This infrastructure will allow Lafayette to continue making great enhancements to our city during a time when many areas are experiencing a slowdown in development,” Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel said in a written statement.

“Beyond these initial services, the LUS Fiber infrastructure will favorably position Lafayette for economic development and other opportunities to move our community forward.”

Both KATC and KLFY post short bits to the web without video. I guess the jackrabbit launch left ’em with no time to work up an interesting visual, and B-roll of holes in the ground isn’t too visually exciting. To some people. 🙂

CampFiber: Tomorrow!

CampFiber, the informal-but-organized meeting that will explore what we do with all the bandwidth that is coming to Lafayette when LUS launches the fiber network, will start tomorrow, Saturday the fourth of October. Be there or be square! This meeting (with more promised) will focus on discussions with and between local developers. Developers will present their ideas with the intention of soliciting input and collaboration from their peers and folks from education and community media (and any others that come!—Registration is open.) will push the developer community to meet some of their unmet needs.

As readers may recall I’ve promoted CampFiber on these pages before. Geoff Daily, the national blogger on big broadband issues who has chronicled and promoted much of Lafayette’s recent developments, organized the event with the help of local worthies like Terry Huval (LUS) and Abigail Ransonet (Abacus). They have put together an event help push the community toward finding uses for all that fiber-based bandwidth.

Geoff recently sent out an email describing the late lineup for tomorrow’s meeting. Extracts from the letter:

  • We’re opening the doors at 8:30am on Saturday and will kick off at 9am with remarks from Mayor Durel.
  • CampFiber will be held in the media room at the Travis Technology Center at 110 Travis St. If you have any trouble finding it, call me at 202-834-0121.
  • If you know of anyone who’s not on this email list but should be attending, please forward them this email and encourage them to come. The more the merrier!
  • We’ve got 5 people signed up to do presentations so far:
    • David Goodwyn showing of his Emmersive Training app
    • Aaron Lozier showing off a project management app that blends the web and desktop experiences
    • Eric Credeur discussing what excites him about virtualization and in-network app delivery through Abacus
    • Matt Turland discussing the evolution of standards and apps for web services in high bandwidth environments
    • Geoff Daily discussing the need to focus on usability when creating apps for the masses
  • If there’s a discussion you want to lead or app you want to show off, either that you’ve built yourself or just that you think is cool, please come prepared to do so. These are informal discussions so no need for big Powerpoint presentations, it’s more about sharing information and ideas. If you can please notify me of your interest, but also know that if you come with something to talk about we’ll be able to find time to do so.
  • Also, we’re going to attempt to webcast this CampFiber. I don’t yet have the link for people to go to to watch, but I’ll be posting it through Twitter, on our wiki, and on my site as soon as we do. Once we get that together please feel encouraged to share it with whoever might be interested but is unavailable to join us in person.

Sounds great! Please plan to attend if this seems down your alley at all.