Tag: "lafayette"

Posted October 22, 2019 by lgonzalez

On October 21, 2019, The American Conservative published an article by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Christopher Mitchell. The article delves into how preemption affected the municipal broadband project in Lafayette, Louisiana. Christopher addresses the fact that many communities that have invested in local Internet networks have done so to fill a void in a manner that is based in self-determination. He also discusses the ways local government strengths lend themselves to the success of municipal networks and how somes states are making changes that may signal a shift in perspective.

We've reproduced the article in full here: 

Fleeced by the Telecoms and Your State is Blessing It

You may live in a place where the monopolies' lobbyists have more authority than your local government.

Joey Durel was not an obvious champion for building a municipal broadband network in his city. He owned multiple private businesses and was the head of the local chamber of commerce prior to becoming mayor of Lafayette, Louisiana, one of the most conservative urban centers in America.

In the early 2000s, like today, the big telephone and cable companies were extremely unpopular. DSL and cable Internet access were growing, but smaller markets like Lafayette always had to wait to get the speed upgrades they saw the larger cities getting. However, Bellsouth (now AT&T) and Cox were not slow to increase prices, which led to obvious customer frustration.

When first presented with the idea of a city-run network, Durel was skeptical but open minded. He looked toward the Lafayette Utility System, which already handled electricity, water, and wastewater for the community—and had a much better reputation than the cable and telephone monopolies—to make an assessment.

Durel soon determined that a city-run broadband network would provide better services at lower prices than Bellsouth or Cox, but he was under no illusion those companies would go quietly into the night. However, he probably didn’t expect such a challenge to his authority—a challenge that went right up to the state legislature to stop him. This was preemption, and Durel was about to get one heck of an education in how monopolies use the levers of government to get what they want.

Preemption is when...

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Posted October 17, 2019 by lgonzalez

Residents and businesses in Carencro, in the northern region of Lafayette Parish of Louisiana, now have access to LUS Fiber. The expansion is the latest step in efforts to deploy the Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network to every community within the Parish.

Growing Footprint

In 2018, the publicly owned network began offering services in Youngsville and Broussard, an expansion that had been more than two years in the making. As the utility adds more expansions to their list of accomplishments, they'll also add knowledge on how to contend with challenges and demand will grow.

According to Teles Fremin, Interim Director of LUS Fiber:

“The residents of Carencro have expressed their interest in LUS Fiber for many years. We are extremely honored that so many residents throughout Lafayette Parish appreciate the value that LUS Fiber can bring to their communities.”

Local leaders in Carencro look forward to the economic development potential that comes with bringing fast, affordable, reliable connectivity to the community of about 9,000. The suburb of Lafayette has shown slow but steady population growth since 2000, and high-quality Internet access will keep that trend alive.

Currently, much of the residential community relies on Cox Cable and AT&T DSL for Internet access. Businesses have very little access to fiber connectivity; LUS Fiber will be able to fill that gap.

Carencro Mayor Glenn Brasseaux:

“The tremendous growth in residential and commercial development in Carencro makes this a great time for LUS Fiber to offer services here. We welcome LUS Fiber and are pleased that our citizens and businesses will have a range of advanced options to choose from for their telecommunications needs.”

Learn More About LUS Fiber

In 2018, Christopher has a great interview with Terry Huval, one of the men who spearheaded the development of the network and has since retired from the utility. Check out the interview to learn more about the development of LUS Fiber:

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Posted March 27, 2019 by lgonzalez

In an evening filled with art and broadband policy, folks gathered in Washington D.C. to attend a screening of the film Do Not Pass Go, a documentary that examines the efforts of Wilson, North Carolina, to expand high-quality connectivity to rural neighbor Pinetops, and how big monopoly providers and the state legislature blocked their attempts.

Next Century Cities, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, the Coalition for Local Internet Choice, the National Association of Regional Councils, and the National League of Cities hosted the event, which included a panel discussion on relevant state laws, the value of local authority, and possible solutions at the federal and local levels to bring everyone high-quality Internet access. In addition to our own Christopher Mitchell, Terry Huval, Former Director of Lafayette Utilities System and Suzanne Coker Craig, Managing Director of CuriosiTees in Pinetops LLC and former Pinetops Commissioner spoke on the panel moderated by Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities.

Attorney Jim Baller, President of Baller Stokes & Lide and President and Co-founder of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice also took some time to discuss specific state barriers that interfere with local authority for Internet network investment.

After the panel discussion, attendees and panelists mingled and enjoyed music supplied by Terry Huval and his fiddle:

 

Host A Screening in Your Community

Holding a screening in...

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Posted November 19, 2018 by lgonzalez

As LUS Fiber approaches it’s 10th anniversary of bringing fast, affordable, reliable connectivity to the community, there’s a growing interest in their story. We’ve spoken with Terry Huval about the network that beat back the incumbents determined to see it fall. Now that he’s retired, Terry has the time to talk to other media outlets to tell the story of the network. Joey Durel, the City-Parish President who worked side-by-side with Terry and who has since stepped out of that role, is also making sure to share his wealth of knowledge so other communities can learn from Lafayette’s experiences.

The local Discover Lafayette podcast dedicated two episodes to the story of LUS Fiber this fall. Both Terry and Joey appeared along with attorney Pat Ottinger and Mayor-President Joel Robideaux to offer their perspectives on what the infrastructure has offered to the community.

Be sure to check out our extensive coverage on Lafayette and LUS Fiber, including our 2012 report, Broadband At the Speed of Light: How Three Communities Built Next Generation Networks.

Part one is 38 minutes, part two is 55 minutes.

Part one:

Terry Huval Shares History of LUS Fiber from Discover Lafayette on Vimeo.

Part two:

History of LUS Fiber - Part Two from Discover Lafayette on Vimeo.

Posted July 10, 2018 by lgonzalez

We’ve been following the community of Lafayette, Louisiana, and their LUS Fiber community network from the early days. Director of Utilities Terry Huval was one of the people responsible for bringing high-quality Internet access to the community back in 2009. Terry is about to retire so we wanted to have one more conversation with him before he pursues a life of leisure.

The last time Terry was on the show, he and Christopher discussed the possibility of an LUS Fiber expansion. That was back in March 2015 for episode 144 and the network has since spread its footprint beyond city limits. Those efforts have inspired better services from competitors in addition to bringing fiber to communities that struggled with poor Internet access.

Christopher and Terry talk a little history as Terry reflects on the reactions of incumbent ISPs who tried to disrupt the LUS Fiber deployment. A winning strategy that has always served the advancement of the network, Terry tells us, has been to focus on the unique culture of Lafayette and its people. Marketing based on local pride has always kept LUS Fiber in locals' minds. Terry discusses establishing pricing and how it relates to marketing and maintaining subscribers; in broadband, the situation is much different than with other utilities.

Terry spends some time answering a few questions on free Wi-Fi at the airport and the ways the network’s economic development benefits have kept the community’s youth in Lafayette. He also addresses how the city has dealt with state rules that apply to LUS Fiber but not to private sector ISPs and the way the city has dealt with those rules.

For more details about how the community of Lafayette developed its fiber optic network, check out our 2012 report, Broadband and the Speed of Light. You can also learn more about how to address some of the many erroneous and misleading claims about LUS Fiber and similar networks from our report Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies: Attacks on LUS Fiber.

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Posted February 13, 2018 by lgonzalez

After the FCC chose to overturn federal network neutrality protections on December 14th, 2017, open Internet advocates and elected officials that favor network neutrality have sought avenues past the Commission to reinstate the policy. In Louisiana, four groups of citizens organized together to form Team Internet and stage Louisiana rallies in four cities in January. Their goal was to bring attention to the overwhelming opinion that network neutrality benefits Internet users and to convince Senator John Kennedy that he should vote to block the harmful FCC decision.

Fight for the Future (FFTF), Free Press Action Fund, and Demand Progress worked together to form Team Internet, which organized protests in Lafayette, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans at Kennedy’s offices. At the Lafayette office, a group of advocates led by Layne St. Julien presented petitions with more than 6,000 signatures to Kennedy’s deputy state director, Jay Vicknair. The petitions urged Sen. Kennedy to use his vote to overturn the FCC action.

According to Vicknair, constituents have called and emailed the office in numbers rivaled only by last year’s healthcare debates.

Advocate Tool, The CRA

Proponents of network neutrality — mostly people, companies, and entities that aren’t big ISPs — consider the FCC’s order harmful. In order to regain network neutrality protections, which would remove the threat of paid prioritization and better ensure an open exchange of ideas online, advocates hope to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Under the CRA, Congress can reverse the FCC decision within 60 legislative days of it being published in the Federal Register as long as there is a majority vote. At last count, 50 Senators had committed to supporting a reversal. Public Knowledge has created a quick video describing the process:

At the recent Team Internet protest, attendees called on Kennedy to “be a hero” and be the 51st.

In A Net Neutrality Zone

Kennedy’s Lafayette office where St. Julien and other activists met Kennedy’s staff, operates in a community where the...

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Posted December 14, 2017 by lgonzalez

For more than two years, the prospect of expanding to two nearby communities has been on the LUS Fiber to-do list in Lafayette. Now that the municipal fiber optic network has achieved at least a 40 percent take rate, the time is right to reach Youngsville and Broussard.

In 2016, the utility generated $36 million in revenue, according to Director of Utilities Terry Huval. The triple-play network has been generating profits since 2013; this will be the first expansion outside of Lafayette city limits.

Poised Pretty, Prudent Planning

Within the next few weeks, LUS plans to begin installing fiber in one subdivision in Broussard and one subdivision in Youngsville. The expansion will progress in “measured steps,” said Huval, so LUS Fiber can evaluate interest in the new areas. "Like any business," he said, "we have to be prudent in how we expand."

Back in 2015, we reported on potential expansion plans that would have required the two communities to pay for the cost of expansion. At the time, Brossard and Youngsville weren’t keen on the idea, but now LUS Fiber is in a position to tackle the project without financial assistance from the two towns. The network has still not reached every premise in Lafayette, but Huval looks at the opportunity to reach Youngsville and Broussard as a way to solidify the utility’s financial position to complete the city deployment.

Some subdivisions were developed in the city after LUS Fiber's first bond sale, so they have not been serviced yet, Huval said. But LUS Fiber will be extended to those areas in the city at the same time fiber is extended to some areas of Youngsville and Broussard, he said.

"Every home (in the city of Lafayette) will have access to fiber," Huval said. "That's the intention."

Huval stated:

“The investment is very small compared to what the benefits could be down the road for us,” Huval said, adding that the expansion is...

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Posted September 26, 2017 by htrostle

Community networks are hyper-local movements. As we have researched these networks, we have often uncovered the work of grassroots activists trying to make a difference in their cities. Today, we've gathered together a collection to show how small groups of local people can make a big difference.

Virginia Friends of Municipal Broadband -- This statewide organization of citizens and activists quickly formed in opposition to the proposed Broadband Deployment Act of 2017 in Virginia. They collected statements  on why the proposed law would be sour for community networks and published a press kit to help people talk about the issue.

Yellow Springs Community Fiber -- This group formed in Yellow Springs, Ohio, to have the city consider building a community network. They hosted a public forum and created a survey to gauge residents' interest in such a project. They even published a white paper about their proposal, and the city issued an RFP to explore the option.

Upgrade Seattle -- This campaign for equitable Internet access encourages folks to support a municipal network in Washington state's largest city. The Upgrade Seattle group hosts neighborhood study sessions and encourages residents to learn more and attend city council meetings.

Holland Fiber -- Holland, Michigan, has been incrementally building a fiber network, and much of the impetus came from the Holland Fiber group. Local entrepreneurs, business owners, and residents realized that high-speed connectivity would be an asset to this lakeside tourist town. 

West Canal Community Network -- This  group of dedicated people focused their attention on bringing high-speed Internet access to the small community of West Canal in Washington. They held a series of public forums on the issue. As the final pieces of their plan to bring DIY wireless service came together, a private provider...

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Posted June 1, 2017 by lgonzalez

For the second week in row, our staff has felt compelled to address a misleading report about municipal networks. In order to correct the errors and incorrect assumptions in yet another anti-muni publication, we’ve worked with Next Century Cities to publish Correcting Community Fiber Fallacies: Yoo Discredits U Penn, Not Municipal Networks.

Skewed Data = Skewed Results

Professor Christopher S. Yoo and Timothy Pfenninger from the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition (CTIC) at the University of Pennsylvania Law School recently released "Municipal Fiber in the United States: An Empirical Assessment of Financial Performance." The report attempts to analyze the financial future of several citywide Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) municipal networks in the U.S. by applying a Net Present Value (NPV) calculation approach. They applied their method to some well-known networks, including Chattanooga's EPB Fiber Optics; Greenlight in Wilson, North Carolina; and Lafayette, Louisiana's LUS Fiber. Unfortunately, their initial data was flawed and incomplete, which yielded a report fraught with credibility issues.

So Many Problems 

In addition to compromising data validity, the authors of the study didn’t consider the wider context of municipal networks, which goes beyond the purpose of NPV, which is determining the promise of a financial investment.

Some of the more expansive problems with this report (from our Executive Summary):

  • They erred in claiming Wilson, Lafayette, and Chattanooga have balloon payments at the end of the term. They have corrected that error in a press release. Other errors, such as confusing the technologies used by at least two networks, are less important but decrease the study’s credibility.
  • Several of the cities dispute the accuracy of the numbers used in the calculations for their communities.
  • The Net Present Value calculation is inappropriate in this context for...
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Posted May 25, 2017 by Nick

Telecompetitor - May 25, 2017

Municipal broadband networks do not have a strong financial track record, according to an analysis conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition. The municipal broadband financial analysis, which looked at 20 municipal fiber projects, found that only nine were cash-flow positive and that of those, seven would need more than 60 years to break even.

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An Opposing View

Municipal network advocate Christopher Mitchell, director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, pointed to several flaws in the Penn Law municipal broadband financial analysis.

He noted, for example that a substantial portion of the 20 networks studied were “early in the process and very small.” He also argued that the 2010-2014 study period may have biased the results, as that period included a recession and subscribership for some of the networks has increased substantially since 2014. He noted, for example, that EPB’s broadband network in Chattanooga had about 50,000 to 55,000 subscribers in 2014 but has now hit the 90,000 mark.

The Penn Law authors’ approach was “not the proper way to measure these networks,” said Mitchell in a phone call with Telecompetitor. The analysis “doesn’t take into account jobs created or the impact on the municipal budget,” he said.

He argued, for example, that a municipality that previously paid $1 million annually for connectivity might instead pay itself $500,000 for connectivity on the municipal network.

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Read the full story here.

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