Five years after announcing its intentions to build a state-of-the-art, fiber-to-the-home network to serve Lafayette residents with premium phone, cable and Internet service at bargain rates, Lafayette Utilities System finally sent out the announcement Feb. 5 that it was “officially open for business.” Ready to sign up? Not so fast.
After a slight delay (LUS had pledged to begin serving customers in January), LUS has now released its full cable lineup. This week, it is sending out mailers to a select number of Lafayette residents eligible to begin receiving service. Connecting the service will take approximately two weeks from the time an eligible resident calls in to subscribe. Billing will begin March 1. LUS Director Terry Huval will not say how many mailers will be going out through the week, or how many people LUS is ready to begin providing service to. “That’s something we want to keep close to the vest,” he says. “We don’t need to have our competition knowing how fast we’re going into the field.” Huval adds that other telecom providers do not reveal details on their market penetration and that he will always be reticent to discuss LUS’. However, as a public entity, LUS will be required to release financial data that will give a general indication of its subscriber base.
As far as a timeline for its rollout, LUS is sticking to its initial projections. Last year, LUS released a build-out map breaking the city down into four rollout phases. Huval did say that all residents in Phase I will likely be able to receive service by the end of this year. Beyond that, he says only that LUS expects to have offered the service to everyone within the city limits by the first quarter of 2011. “That’s the objective we’ve set for ourselves.”
The delay in the rollout was caused by lengthy negotiations with some cable providers, according to Huval. Originally, LUS intended to join the National Cable Television Cooperative of independent cable providers, which already has negotiated deals with cable channel providers. However, shortly after LUS received its bond money for the fiber project, the NCTC issued a moratorium on new members. “We may be the first city having to do all of this programing ourselves with our own people,” Huval says. “That made it a lot more difficult. In the end, it’s going to be a better thing for us because now we’ve built relationships with all those providers through the whole negotiation process.” In addition to delaying the process, not being a part of the co-op also lessened LUS’ bargaining leverage, raising the price on programming. LUS still hopes to join the NCTC; the organization opened up to new members again last month, and LUS is now awaiting word on its application.
For those customers who do receive service, Huval says he expects they will immediately notice a difference in quality. “The quality of our system is going to be pristine by all standards,” he says. With an all-fiber network, he contends customers should never experience the kind of TV picture pixelation or delay that sometimes occurs when cable providers push their bandwidth to the limit. “The picture quality even on standard definition is significantly superior to what I have seen on standard definition on other providers,” Huval says. “In fact, in some cases, our standard definition doesn’t look too much different than what you would see on high definition. It really has a difference.”
Huval adds LUS’ controlled rollout is due in part to its commitment to quality service. “This is just the beginning,” he says. “We’re hopeful that our customers will be pleased with our customer service, with our constistency, with our reliability. To start up an initiative like this — that’s so complex and so involved — and to have the breadth of channel lineup that we have on day one I think is an impressive start, but it is indeed a start.”
JUNE 17 If anyone ever wonders why Saints fans hate Atlanta with a capital H, here's a good indication. Radio "professionals" at an Atlanta station created an entire segment around making fun of former Saints player Steve Gleason, who is now paralyzed by ALS. Listen, nobody's ever accused DJs of being rocket scientists. But how could someone think it is amusing to pretend to ask a man with a degenerative, fatal disease if he will be alive next week? The DJs have been fired, and are now whining about how gutless their former bosses are. Wow.
JUNE 18 Here's the latest from the Advocate on the fatal hit-and-run accident allegedly involving the president of the Livingston Parish School Board. He's accused by police of hitting a 21-year-old man on a highway early Sunday and driving away. The man died at a hospital later. On Monday, police seized the president's truck and towed it away. But he's available for board meetings: apparently a $500 bond is sufficient for this type of thing over in St. Helena Parish.
JUNE 18 Former broadcast journalist Griffin Scott has posted this plea on his blog for financial assistance from his readers. Scott, who says he was fired after he wrote something fairly innocuous (for Facebook) on his wall, is suing a media giant for his job back. He's framed himself as David going after a bloated media giant, and he's probably not far off.
JUNE 18 Here's a fairly absurd column posted on DIG Magazine about the completely absurd practice of naming killer storms. Tornadoes don't have names. Blizzards don't have names. But hurricanes do, and there's a big process to bestow them, Jacques Cormery writes. He's right about the crazy assemblage of names -- this year, there's everything from Tanya to Humberto -- and his idea that we don't waste good names on killer storms is a good one.
JUNE 17 Political columnist John Maginnis has some advice for Louisiana Republicans: grow up. After the schism that occurred in this past session - fiscal hawks teaming up with Democrats to spank the Republican "majority" and hand Gov. Jindal his, er, aspirations for continued solon control -- they need to figure out how to get along with each other, Maginnis writes.
JUNE 17 Here's the Picayune's obit story for Dorothy 'Miss Dot' Domilise, the lady who made poboys at the uptown restaurant that bears her name. Miss Dot moved to New Orleans during World War II, where she met and married her husband Sam. When she passed away Friday she was 90, and had spent more than 60 of those years working at the restaurant on Annunciation Street.
JUNE 17 This editorial in the Advocate speaks in favor of the consent decrees that have federal judges overseeing police operations and the sheriff's parish prison in New Orleans. Mayor Landrieu and Sheriff Gusman can't get along, so outside forces, like the Inspector General and the judges, are needed to make sure things run right, the editorial opines.
JUNE 18 Here's a post from Manny Schewitz on Forward Progressives that is good for a chuckle. Manny had an epiphany back in November, and is sharing it with us today: he believes that Fox "News" is killing the GOP by pandering to right wing nuts. Now, don't get it twisted: Manny's not broke up about it. He says he enjoys watching the downward spiral with a shot of whiskey and "a schadenfreude chaser."
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again, it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to go public this year.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.