The USA Today occasionally covered the Lafayette muni fiber network fight as Cox and Bellsouth used every dirty trick conceivable against the community to shut it down. Reporter Rick Jervis looks back in now that the network is available to everyone in town.
The battle over broadband in Lafayette is part of a growing number of clashes across the USA that pit municipalities against telecom firms for the right to deliver Web access to homes and businesses. More than 150 local governments across the country have built or are planning to build cyber networks, says Christopher Mitchell of the Washington-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a non-profit group that advocates community development and local access to technology. Mitchell says those efforts often draw opposition in the form of misinformation campaigns, lawsuits from private providers or unfavorable state laws resulting from telecom lobbying. Nineteen states either ban cities and counties from getting into the broadband business — or make it difficult.
Minor quibble: the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (and particularly my work) is not Washington-based.
Like the toy in Crackerjack boxes, we cannot have a story about community networks without at least one blatant lie from some cable company employee. No disappointments here:
"Our initial objection was, and remains, that it is an unfair advantage for your competitor to also be your regulator," says Todd Smith, a Cox spokesman. "Many states prohibit government from competing with the private sector."
I challenge Todd Smith to name one way in which LUS Fiber regulates Cox. When the local government makes rules that impact either Cox or LUS Fiber, such rules have to be non-disciminatory or they violate state and federal laws. If incumbents think the community is violating any laws, we know that they know how to hire lawyers and file lawsuits. They've done it often enough.
The story details some of the benefits to the community since LUS Fiber opened shop -- including businesses moving to Lafayette to create new jobs:
Scott Eric Olivier moved his tech startup firm, Skyscraper Holding...