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Municipal Report
Fiber Kung-Fu in the Bayou
by Karl Bode 01:04PM Thursday May 05 2005
When Comcast and SBC wanted to convince three Illinois cities to vote against running their own fiber, they conducted "push polls" designed to shape voter perception, not gauge it. This, combined with more than a quarter million dollars in often misleading local marketing, helped "educate" voters that they should stay out of the broadband business. That public relations victory was a model for a battle that's now brewing in Lafayette, Louisiana.

The Illinois surveys, which we were the only outlet to get a copy of, contained questions like "Should tax money be allowed to provide pornographic movies for residents?" As explored by Mother Jones recently, they played an integral part in defeating the initiative twice (See our interview with local leader Ed Hodges).

It later turned out that SBC spent $192,324 on defeating the ballot measure, while Comcast spent $89,740. Fiber for our Future, the community group pushing the initiative, spent $4,325. Not months after the first vote failed, the Illinois area in question saw Comcast rate hikes as high as 33% in some neighborhoods.

Now the city of Lafayette, Louisiana is preparing to vote on a non-tax (revenue bonds) based fiber network. Cox and Bellsouth, as recently explored by USAToday, have been fighting this plan tooth and nail.

Their efforts have included not-so-veiled threats (the Independent) that BellSouth could pull a local wireless call-center (1,300 local employees) if the plan moved forward. They've also trotted out not-so-independent policy groups like the Heartland Institute (also a big player in killing the Illinois project) to try and convince locals that the enterprise is akin to capitalistic cancer.

Heartland's warning comes despite the fact the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, some 2,400 businesses strong (ironically including Cox), studied the local impact of the plan for a year and came out in favor of it.

After considerable legal wrangling, BellSouth and Cox managed to get the fiber plan put to a vote. There's no great love of Democratic process here; the providers wisely know that they can easily win in public relations politics, usually by outmanning and outfunding their opponents.

As the incumbent PR campaign ramps up in Lafayette ahead of the July vote, push polls have again emerged as a tactic of choice. According to the Advocate, locals are amazed at some of the questions being asked.

One local Louisiana television channel quotes several local residents, one of whom claims they were told by a pollster:"if the government controls the cable TV, you may not be able to watch TV except on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 'cause they could ration your TV watching."

Lafayette's fiber plan goes to a vote on July 16. The Lafayette Chamber of Commerce research into the plan is available here for those interested. Arguments for the project can be found at the Lafayette Pro-Fiber website. Arguments against the project can be found at the Fiber411 website.

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woody7
Premium
join:2000-10-13
Torrance, CA

hmmmmm.....

Telco/cableco "FUD", but a reasonably clear thinking person should see through this....
--
BlooMe

Minister

join:2002-01-02
Fleeting

Yikes

quote:
One local Louisiana television channel quotes several local residents, one of whom claims they were told by a pollster:"if the government controls the cable TV, you may not be able to watch TV except on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 'cause they could ration your TV watching."
That is rich.

JacksGhost
Got Bottle?

join:2002-12-29
Buffalo, NY

Re: Yikes

Might be rich, but a lot of idiots will bite off on it.
kevings

join:2004-02-25
Anaheim, CA

1 edit

2 recommendations

sbc have a nice day you bunch of c*ck suckers!

"Should tax money be allowed to provide pornographic movies for residents?" .......

id like to give a more mature response to this article but after reading questions like the one above all i can say is that in my mind SBC (seeking billions constantly),is a notch below a lying, crack addicted hooker that steals from her friends and family to support her habit, and at the same time keeps f'ing even though she knows she has AIDS.

ColdFiltered

join:2005-01-25
Atlanta, GA

Re: sbc have a nice day you bunch of c*ck suckers!

How many lying, crack addicted hooker that steals from her friends and family to support her habit do you know are are you exposed to? I mean, its one thing to use as a rule something you are familiar with when gauging something new, but I do not know a single lying (or truth-telling), crack addicted (or drug free) hooker that steals from her friends and family to support her habit.

goudaboy

join:2002-07-25
Saint Charles, IL

As Gomer Pyle used to say..

As Gomer Pyle used to say.."Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!"

These FUDsters work well because they prey on the fears of ignorant.
--
»www.dvd-dweeb.com
MonkeyPox4

join:2004-12-21
Lafayette, LA

Re: As Gomer Pyle used to say..

Lord knows there's plenty of ignorance here in Lafayette. I just hope enough people like me are around to see through BellSouth's BS.

ColdFiltered

join:2005-01-25
Atlanta, GA

Re: As Gomer Pyle used to say..

Sorry, I doubt it. I'm betting their are more idiots and ignorant and lost souls than there are enlightened people.

ColdFiltered

join:2005-01-25
Atlanta, GA

Hal the blame is the PSC/PUC.

Why would the PSC/PUC allow rate hikes in those area unless they were allowed to by the franchise and governing authorities?

JTRockville
Data Ho
Premium,MVM
join:2002-01-28
Rockville, MD

Re: Hal the blame is the PSC/PUC.

The 33% rake hike imposed by Comcast (the one mentioned in the article) isn't regulated by anyone.

In some areas, the local franchise authority regulates prices for equipment and the minimum programming tier (sometimes known as "limited basic") for cable companies. But cable companies are free to charge whatever they choose for all other tiers.
PthirusPubis6

join:2003-05-24
00000

In local government we trust?

quote:
When Comcast and SBC wanted to convince three Illinois cities to vote against running their own fiber, they conducted "push polls" designed to shape perception, not gauge it. This, combined with more than a quarter million dollars in local marketing, helped "educate" voters that the fiber plan was against their best interests.
The root of the problem is that the tri-city voters trusted their cable and telephone companies more than their local government officials. A side effect of Chicago area politics maybe?
AuroraJock

join:2003-04-02
Chicago, IL

Re: In local government we trust?

No way. The local politicians in the Tri cities have halos over their heads. No way would they EVAR exploit a government owned fiber network. Illinois politicians are some of the most honorable and truthful folks you will ever meet in your entire life. They are complete SAINTS, whilst the telcos and cablecos are the DEVIL.
/sarcasm off/

Megadeth5150
Big in Japan
Premium
join:2004-12-31
Japan Inc.

Only in America...

.

LeftOfSanity

@208.17.x.x

Da W Dubbya

They must of used George Dubbya's personal spinsters.

alchav

join:2002-05-17
Saint George, UT

Muni-Fiber, the Cities are as confused as you Guys

Here we go again, just what is Muni-Fiber? Networks deliver what you put on them. They normally don't control all the content. Muni-Fiber will only give you a big pipe to what ever the Network has access. The Munies don't want to be an ISP, Telco, Cable Provider, or anything else along these lines. Do you guys understand this, or are you as confused as the average person?

batageek
Slave To The Duopoly
Premium
join:2003-01-25

Re: Muni-Fiber, the Cities are as confused as you

they did in the tricities......

their own head end, their own isp, etc
--
»www.tricitybroadband.com

Titus
Mr Gradenko

join:2004-06-26
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Embarq Now Centu..

Still waiting for

the Mother Jones citation to become the justification to discount the entire story -- never mind the facts staring the fud boys in the face.
--
"The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose." -- Frederick Douglass

Minister

join:2002-01-02
Fleeting

1 recommendation

Re: Still waiting for

Yet be sure than if Jeff Gannon of Talon News wrote someting about how Muni-broadband caused premature aging, anti-muni folks would consider it a fair and balanced portrayal of the issue. Facts (like the chamber of commerce support) be damned.

Titus
Mr Gradenko

join:2004-06-26
kudos:1

Re: Still waiting for

Good old Jeff. Who's he, er, cough ... writing for now?
runlevelfour

join:2002-06-12
USA

Who Profits?

People would be much better off in life if they followed the "Who Profits" line of thinking. On one side of the argument you have this multi billion dollar company that only exists to enrich itself through whatever means they can dream up. The other side you have your own townspeople trying to set up their own system to be non/low profit.

It truly saddens me that people all too often to go with the first. While ultimately it is up to the people to make a decision, I feel that in a situation like this there should be no marketing from one side or the other. It makes it way too easy for people not to make up their own mind one way or the other.

Muni fiber imo is a great idea. As long as it remains democratically controlled. Its not the magic solution to any problem regarding fiber, but I think that it would be much better for all involved so long as the people of those cities retained control over it. A community fiber project, like any other will be as assuredly horrid as a privately owned one if left in the decision making hands of the few.

pcscdma
hi
Premium
join:2004-01-14
Winterset, IA

Re: Who Profits?

said by runlevelfour:

People would be much better off in life if they followed the "Who Profits" line of thinking.
Cisco, Intel, AMD, Juniper and Motorola probably profit more from Internet services than the cablecos and telcos. They also benefit regardless of who puts up the infrastructure - munis or businesses. Corning usually benefits from fiber installations. They are one of the top suppliers of fiber.
--
Posting .sig
bankron

join:2005-04-30
Truckee, CA

Cebridge & SBC Shennanigans in Truckee

Our local public utility district has been trying for over 2 years to initiate a fiber to home system for broadband, telephony and audio/video services. Of course the only local cable company has been fighting it tooth and nail, as has SBC.

After delaying regulatory approval for years these two malefactors are now suing the state regulatory agency; they contend the utility district's plan was not properly approved.

Delay, delay, delay.
averagedude

join:2002-01-30
San Diego, CA

Re: Cebridge & SBC Shennanigans in Truckee

Kind of like a sports game.

The incumbents all ready scored one point.
Now all they have to do to win is not allow the other team to score. This can be done by delay and stall tactics.

FTCXtreme

join:2005-03-14
New Braintree, MA

Politcal Bones to pick

You bet your ass they do,Just liek dish network blocks comcast ads so does direct tv. DOES THAT SOUND AMERICAN, THEM BLOCKING MEDIA? Charter blurs out porn videos on cinemax is that american? An electoral vote, is that democratic, NO BUT WE STILL DO IT ANYWAY! I say let the people vote on big issues liek tAx Reform, and Telecom laws, and not these assholes who liek campaign funding. It not gonan happen, just like why do republican keep on cutting taxes and fuckign up the country, and Democrats giving outragous taxes? Why not put taxes at a resonable rate and keep em there.

All that political rambling was because I was proving my point, nothign is gonna change in politics, Nothing. Why, we have morons running the nation, we need an imbetween party, Not republicans who beleive in tax cut and putting the country in debt, And not democrats who hug trees and have no definate beleif. The democrats are the party with no ideals, The republicans are the party with bad ideals. INBETWEEN PARTY, !Commonsense '08! The answer to fixing america is the people, foreign policy, except France(they can rot in hell), deployment of broadband, Broadband is the future, STO DEPENDING ON ARAB OIL, Jesus we have an Alaskan pipe line, we can drill up there, FUCK THE POLARBEARS. Canada has oil up north quite abit fo it. So does Russia. We can speak out to Opec and tell em where to shove it, theres oil elsewhere(or we could just use "UNCLE SAM'S PESUASION TOYS". America has an image problem we need to fix public school, stop gang violence. HELL, I have an idea, We send Military polics and a few Marien units to "Da Hood", teach them a god damn lesson. As for the obesity epedemic, Its the god damn parents fault stop blaming it on TV, and the fucking cookie monster, Heres what you do if your kids fat, Make S/He go outside, Make them work out JUST GET THEM OFF THEIR FATASSES! Americas HIV Epidemic can be stopped easily, Give the leaders of the top phamarcy corperations HIV/AIDS, we'd find a cure in a week, same thing with cancer and other diseases. also beleive there should be a smack button on your phone, so if Tech support is being retarded or just plane rude, like Veruseless's a hand comes out and smacks em. COMMON SENSE '08! IM OUT!

FiberNow

@tsged.com

Incumbents desperate

A little background on that. LUS provides electricity and water services to Lafayette. They ask that you water your lawn only on MWF. The actual question was "LUS allows you to water your lawn only on MWF. What if they would allow you to only watch tv on MWF? How do you feel about that?" It's a ridiculous parallel and comparing apples to oranges any way you look at it, but I just thought that might clear up some confusion of how that question was formulated.

For the record, this went over extremely poorly for Cox and Bellsouth. The citizens of Lafayette pretty much laughed this up. Initially, Cox claimed partial responsibility for the poll, saying that they co-sponsored it at the request of an unnamed partner who started the whole thing. It was obviously Bellsouth who was the silent partner, but they denied responsibility. As the heat built up, Cox publically admitted that it was Bellsouth who was pushing so hard for this, and now Bellsouth is still denying they had any part in it.
ASG9

join:2003-03-22
Big Easy

Whose on first?

see paragraph quoting Gary Cassard, a Cox official regards who organized poll-----

»www.2theadvocate.com/stories/050···01.shtml
GumboFile

join:2005-05-07
Grand Coteau, LA

for more info on debate in Lafayette Louisiana

For links to all sites debating municipal broadband in Lafayette Louisiana

www.gumbofile2.blogspot.com