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Lafayette Wins Fiber Fight
State Supreme Court sees things their way...
by Karl Bode 08:54AM Friday Feb 23 2007 Tipped by satcomlink See Profile
Lafayette has won their battle to provide triple play fiber connectivity to the public after a three-year legal battle against incumbents (ruling here in pdf format). City voters approved the project back in the summer of 2005, but the city faced some sleazy legal and PR campaigns by incumbents to derail the project. They then faced a legal fight against a pair of apparently deep-pocketed locals that ultimately led to the State Supreme Court. All in all, the city has spent around $3.5 million on the network without laying a strand of fiber -- a significant chunk of that cost going toward legal fees.

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raye
Premium
join:2000-08-14
Orange, CA

Be interesting to see if this works

I have mixed opinions on whether municipal-owned fiber will work and how good it will be. IMHO it may make sense for those communities where the incumbent just plain suck. Looks like we will finally get a chance to see how well (or how bad) this decision will be for Lafayette residents.

scrummie02
Bentley
Premium
join:2004-04-16
Arlington, VA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Re: Be interesting to see if this works

I agree. I would like to think competition would be offered, or at least private companies can pay to "lease" the fiber lines if someone wants to opt out of state run services for a better private one. I think the project will work if bureaucracy stays out of the way.
--
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Ahrenl

join:2004-10-26
North Andover, MA

1 recommendation

Re: Be interesting to see if this works

If it's going to be such a miserable failure, then the telco's should just let it go through so they can point to it and say, "see what a miserable failure this will be!?" The fact that the incumbents were willing to spend a like amount (~$3.5m) to fight something that has already been voted on speaks volumes on the viability. Seriously, if it's a horrible failure, they could probably swoop in and buy the network for pennies on the dollar and be rollin..
GhostDoggy

join:2005-05-11
Duluth, GA

Re: Be interesting to see if this works

Maybe the next time we'll see the city of Lafeyette open a chain of their own not-for-profit grocery stores and gas stations and put the franchisers out of business as well. In fact, let's get rid of Best Buy (haha), car dealerships, etc., etc., etc.

Why should a municipality play god in the free market? Kind of hard to comepte when the other guy ain't looking to make an f-ing dime.
Ahrenl

join:2004-10-26
North Andover, MA

Re: Be interesting to see if this works

Communication networks are hardly a free market. Everyone is NOT allowed to build their own network, so network owners will always have a monopoly (non-reproducible asset) power. I don't think the city should get into the service provider business, but building their own networks is absolutely the way to go..
GhostDoggy

join:2005-05-11
Duluth, GA

Re: Be interesting to see if this works

Unless the municipality builds the network with an open-access to anyone for resale, then its competing unfairly in the free market, and doing so with special conditions.

How should any business take a condition in which its competition get's to make their own rules? Personally, I think the LECs and cable providers should just pack their bags and leave the state. Let the Lafeyette municipals show the state how it cane be done while pleasing their people. Hah!
Ahrenl

join:2004-10-26
North Andover, MA

Re: Be interesting to see if this works

said by GhostDoggy:

Unless the municipality builds the network with an open-access to anyone for resale, then its competing unfairly in the free market, and doing so with special conditions.

How should any business take a condition in which its competition get's to make their own rules? Personally, I think the LECs and cable providers should just pack their bags and leave the state. Let the Lafeyette municipals show the state how it cane be done while pleasing their people. Hah!
I agree, they should open it up.

But then again, how is that different then having a private network owner who also offers service? They set the prices, and decide what services to allow to be resold at what profit margins. So you see, they're really no worse, and I'm pretty sure they'd be happy if both packed it up, since they're trying to replace them.. It's not a "free market" either way.. (unless they open up the muni network)

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL
said by GhostDoggy:

Maybe the next time we'll see the city of Lafeyette open a chain of their own not-for-profit grocery stores and gas stations and put the franchisers out of business as well. In fact, let's get rid of Best Buy (haha), car dealerships, etc., etc., etc.
What if Best Buy and car dealerships refused to open shop in your town?
GhostDoggy

join:2005-05-11
Duluth, GA

Re: Be interesting to see if this works

said by Maxo:

said by GhostDoggy:

Maybe the next time we'll see the city of Lafeyette open a chain of their own not-for-profit grocery stores and gas stations and put the franchisers out of business as well. In fact, let's get rid of Best Buy (haha), car dealerships, etc., etc., etc.
What if Best Buy and car dealerships refused to open shop in your town?
Are you suggesting that the telephone and or cable provider isn't providing any broadband in Lafayette? I can say that quite a few dollars have been spent in that town for broadband. Maybe the LEC and Cable companies should shut those customers off to support your case.

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL
said by raye:

I have mixed opinions on whether municipal-owned fiber will work and how good it will be. IMHO it may make sense for those communities where the incumbent just plain suck. Looks like we will finally get a chance to see how well (or how bad) this decision will be for Lafayette residents.
I think whether or not it works depends largely on how well the implement on the system. I don't think there's anything inherent about it being municipal project that dooms it to failure or gauruntees success.
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landry98

join:2001-08-31
Red Stick
years back when the city commissioned their planning for a fiber network for business development, Louisiana State University and local residents, BellSouth (and Cox) said they had no interest in building it, that the existing network was adequate. if my memory serves me right, the incumbents statement denied any prospect of fiber in any form (to the node, to the home, etc) for Lafayette in the foreseeable future.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1

1 recommendation

me if i where the judge 3yrs ago id have told bellsouth, deploy a full 21st century broadband network with in 8 months or i greenlight the city and throw out your case.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports

Fluker

join:2005-04-07
West Lafayette, IN

1 recommendation

this is sad and wasteful

Honestly doesn't anybody else feel that the city is owed some money? BellSouth has a pretty clear tactic of essentially harassing at every opportunity and they have caused quite a bit of damage to a legitimate program.

/my thoughts

sorry if my writing sucks, i need coffee

FFH5
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: this is sad and wasteful

said by Fluker:

Honestly doesn't anybody else feel that the city is owed some money?
The lawsuit saved the city $6.9 million because the cost of equipment dropped that much during the time the project was delayed. Maybe the city owes those doing the suing a commission.
»www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.···311/1002
"If the Supreme Court rules in our favor, it won't be that it cost us $1.1 million in legal fees. It's that the lawsuit saved us $6.9 million because the cost of the technology and hardware dropped," he said.

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SRFireside

join:2001-01-19
Houston, TX

Re: this is sad and wasteful

Interesting slant on the whole issue. The article went on to say Cox customers in Lafayette also saved money due to the lack of rate hikes that other cities in the area were exposed to. Cox Communications must be having a tantrum over how they wasted their money on propaganda and in turn benefited the very project they wanted to squash.

wifi4milez
Big Russ, 1918 to 2008. Rest in Peace

join:2004-08-07
New York, NY
said by FFH5:

said by Fluker:

Honestly doesn't anybody else feel that the city is owed some money?
The lawsuit saved the city $6.9 million because the cost of equipment dropped that much during the time the project was delayed. Maybe the city owes those doing the suing a commission.
»www.theadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.···311/1002
"If the Supreme Court rules in our favor, it won't be that it cost us $1.1 million in legal fees. It's that the lawsuit saved us $6.9 million because the cost of the technology and hardware dropped," he said.
Thats a good way of looking at it!
--
!

Fluker

join:2005-04-07
West Lafayette, IN
that's a nice positive spin on a bad situation. Though I'm sure residents might have been happy to see the money spent so they could have inexpensive,fast internet.

props to you finding that article. because something is bad, it's not all bad.

kapil
The Kapil

join:2000-04-26
Chicago, IL

Death By A Thousand Cuts

The little guy will win against the T/VZ duopoly...eventually. Until then, keep fighting the good fight!

AnonProxy
Premium
join:2001-05-12

They should be able to recoup legal costs

Make it really fair.

Rick
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-06
Waterbury, CT

Sorry but....

I see no reason why cities and towns need to get into the fiber business.

The telco's and cable companies as a whole offer reasonably priced options and unless a community is completely without any options at all, it makes sense to let them handle this.

There simply are too many other things on the plates of local governments ranging from roads to schools and many things in between. While some people understandably might want better broadband service than what they currently have, communities spending millions of taxpayer dollars on legal fees just fighting the industry not to mention building out and then properly managing these networks is wasteful spending compared to so many other priorities that local communities face.

With both cox and bell south apparently serving the area in question, there would seem to have been a decent amount of choice and competition for area residents as it is.
I can't speak to bell south but I do know that towns here in Ct. with COX overall seem very happy with them and have speeds up to 15000/2000.
What does fiber really offer that that doesn't?

I just don't see it..nor get it..why a community feels they can out do or improve on something like this.

Or, why the urgent and pressing need is even there.

The bottom line is, unless there is some very compelling reason why people aren't being served such as those that might be found in very rural areas, I think that communities should just stay out of this business.
They should open their doors to competition from the private sector and encourage and insist that they provide the best service possible.
--
The Coyote captured the RR! Roadrunner Rick is now Comcastic!

SRFireside

join:2001-01-19
Houston, TX

Re: Sorry but....

You pretty much answered your own question. In many cases the municipal services are coming up because they get tired the empty promises by ILECs for better broadband coverage. So instead of waiting for Ma Bell or a Cableco to fit the bill they do it themselves.

Do you know how long I have been waiting for Project Pronto? Five years. Not very "pronto", is it. Now that Pronto has been scrapped (nice how they actually never roll out the promised project) they are promising the rollout of Project Lightspeed. History tells me they won't lift a finger unless forced to. LaFayette and other communities have the same problems and decided enough was enough.

In a truly fair market there would be no need for municipal fiber projects, but that has never been the case. ILECs control the only telephone infrastructure we have and when they agreed to open it up they turn around and not only say it's unfair to allow competing companies to use their lines they make deliberate attempts to delay their deployment. It's even worse with the cable companies since in over 95% of the U.S. you have only one choice for cable services.

A truly fair market would have a single infrastructure (to help keep property from being dug up by unnecessary and redundant lines) open to any provider willing to pay the line fees. Most municipal fiber services do just that.

If you want to blame somebody for the legals costs to build this project blame the lagging broadband companies that decided to litigate to keep a network offline instead of ramping up deployment of their own network, demonstrating the lack of necessity for a municipal network.

Rick
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-06
Waterbury, CT

Re: Sorry but....

While I don't disagree with most of your points, I just think that it boils down to a luxury of sorts that communities simply can't afford. And that money would be much better spent somewhere else.

It's not really an issue of who I would want to blame for whatever legal costs. The fact of the matter is, they were there and it's money spent that could have went somewhere else for something much more pressing.

Think about this for a minute. At 1,000.00 per homeowner..a legal bill of 3.5 Million dollars represents ALL the money collected from 3500 homeowners in property taxes. Just to pay some lawyers to fight this issue.

I've worked with homeless people here in Ct. on a volunteer basis for several years and see people all the time sleeping out in 0 degree weather. But yet, a community feels that spending that kind of money on something so people can increase their speeds from 3000k to 15000k is money better spent. With Cox and Bellsouth there..this doesn't seem to be an issue of bringing broadband there..it's one of the local government entering this business to create a luxury of sorts that they can hardly afford, while surely something else will suffer because of it that could have benefited instead.

I also think that in due time the cable and telcos would have gotten around to improving service if it wasn't already. But, in the meantime, people should understand that on a local basis, governments have much more pressing issues than trying to get in a business they have no business being in the first place..much less trying to triple broadband speeds when they're already satisfactory for most people anyway.

Again, in closing..I don't fault people for wanting it..and think they should press their cable and telco's for these things. My issue is with so many other pressing needs facing local governments..and many times life and death ones that I see in my volunteer work..I just can't see them getting in this fight to begin with.
--
The Coyote captured the RR! Roadrunner Rick is now Comcastic!

morbo
Complete Your Transaction

join:2002-01-22
00000
Reviews:
·Charter

Re: Sorry but....

you see it as a luxury. this community sees it as a necessity. this is not to say that all the problems in the area (homeless, crime, etc.) are solved. of course they aren't and they never will be. at the heart of it, people are tired of telco and cableco dragging their feet. if these companies would actually deploy then communities wouldn't need to deploy.

the added bonus of muni is that local money stays local. the community is supporting itself and not the overpaid CEOs of Cox and BellSouth. more local jobs. more local taxes from the workers. etc. circle of life.

the only thing corporations listen to is money. vote with your money: stop giving it to Cox and BellSouth/AT&T. it will make you feel good.
Ahrenl

join:2004-10-26
North Andover, MA

Re: Sorry but....

Shouldn't it be up to the community though? I don't see why your opinion on what another community should do should matter to that community. They VOTED and decided, YES, we would like to build this. Even after incumbents spent more millions spreading deception over true costs and chances of success.

Personally I think it's a terrible idea for the muni to provide the service over the network, and i would vote against that in my community. I do, however, think it's an EXCELLENT idea for the muni to OWN the network, in fact, I think it's the model of how our communications system should be setup. (kind of like our transportation system) With private industry competing to provide service over the local/state/federally owned network.

Rick
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-06
Waterbury, CT

Re: Sorry but....

said by Ahrenl:

Shouldn't it be up to the community though? I don't see why your opinion on what another community should do should matter to that community.
lol. I wasn't aware that what I thought did matter to that community.
--
The Coyote captured the RR! Roadrunner Rick is now Comcastic!
Skippy25

join:2000-09-13
Hazelwood, MO
Luxury or not, they voted and the people spoke.

They saved millions in reduced equipment cost so the legal cost issue is a nonissue.

Sure they may have gotten around to it.... someday. They had their chance. They dropped the ball. Now I hope this runs both of them out of the area completely.
Kearnstd
Space Elf
Premium
join:2002-01-22
Mullica Hill, NJ
kudos:1
if the corperation doesnt want to deploy then its up to the city to pickup where the lazy ass companies wont do it.
--
[65 Arcanist]Filan(High Elf) Zone: Broadband Reports
scooper

join:2000-07-11
Youngsville, NC
kudos:2

finally..

No - the citizens of the community voted to do this BECAUSE incumbents were unwilling/unable to meet the desires/ needs of the community. Why it got held back can only be explained by the incumbents' feelings of entitlement

Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 recommendation

GOOD!

I'm glad. This was more than just about getting into the fiber business, it was about standing up to these corporations who, after all these years, think they can continue to slap people around. GOOD!
--
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JoeyDee
Premium
join:2004-07-23
Las Vegas, NV

The concept is wrong !

Giving certain entities (companies or even individuals) exclusive rights to sell a community natural gas, electricity or even telephone service made tremendous sense 100 years ago. Maybe 30 or 40 years ago the cable franchises made sense. Build out the utility to the benefit of both the community and have a reasonable chance to recover your expenses and then make a profit. Some communities, here by me the Alameda Electric Company for example, elected to build their own utilities with great success.

To my point: This model is now bullshit. Technology is changing and improving so quickly that if a city's residents and business wish to install a forward thinking network there should be no impediments. I truly hate to say this as I am a serious "private sector" conservative but, US companies thinking about quarterly profits won't invest in ventures that makes profits over decades. If residents want really cool 'net access and access to the IPTV and VOIP stuff that's coming sometime before they're dead they probably have to do it themselves. If BigTelco/BigCable want to stem this tide all they have to do is provide the goods, huh?

Maybe the municipal networks really are the answer. More and more I think they are.

Joe

Daarken
Rara Avises
Premium
join:2005-01-12
Southwest LA
kudos:3

Re: The concept is wrong !

Considering I grew up in Lafayette, LA and I was a customer of Bellsouth and am a customer of Cox, I think that this fiber project is going to be a welcome addition to that market. After all the crap and threats that Bellsouth pulled, and all the rate increases done by Cox and Bellsouth this is an going to help reduce the cost of these OVERPRICED services. The advertised quality of product services are misleading. On top of it, the actual costs and hidden fees of their service is way overpriced for the amount of service they offer. I pay $100 a month for their internet and expanded cable, considering I only watch about 5 channels regularly and the rest is either QVC or religious program or sports.
"Officials claim LUS can offer phone, cable and Internet for about $85 a month, lower than rates charged by existing providers such as Cox Communications and BellSouth, both of which fought the LUS project in the legal system and in the court of public opinion."
Yeah now that is Triple Play in my book.
--
www.pointofexistence.com

zitch

join:2002-07-08
Lafayette, LA

About time!

Truthfully, I don't have any illusions that this will be a successful project, and I do have some reservations of having LUS be the internet/telephone/TV provider in addition to owning the infrastructure, but I believe that this will be a step forward compared to the existing situation.

Bring on the fiber!

One minor point of caution before declaring a total victory. From this article:
Elizabeth Naquin still has 14 days to ask for a re-hearing at the State Supreme Court before Thursday's decision becomes final.
Supposedly, the risk of this is small as the decision was unanimous, and, according to the Lafayette Pro Fiber Blog, "No lawyer who values his standing before the state's highest court is going to waste their time or try their patience by suggesting that the court reconsider a unanimous decision that you lost on every point -- both substantial and procedural."
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wcweaver
Premium
join:2002-02-22
Fort Myers, FL

Its more about attitude!

This would not even be an issue except for the Telco and Cable companies ARROGANCE. They want to dictate the what, when, where and how much.