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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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September 4, 2008 12:13 PM

VidChat: Talk Fiber with Terry Huvall of Lafayette Utility Systems

I could not be prouder to announce that App-Rising.com has its newest sponsor: Lafayette Utility Systems (or LUS).

LUS is deploying a full fiber municipal network in Lafayette, LA, where readers of App-Rising.com know I've been spending a fair amount of time this year and plan on continuing to do so due in large part to my excitement over the network they're building, which will be able to support a free 100Mbps intranet.

For this latest VidChat, I sat down with Terry Huval, director of LUS, to introduce the country to Lafayette and the exciting things going on down there. Enjoy!

- Here's LUS's website.

- For a very in-depth look at the capabilities of LUS's network, check out this post by Lafayette-based fiber advocate John St. Julien.

- I loved Terry's comment about how the idea for the 100Mbps intranet grew out of the community's desires vs. decisions made in a corporate boardroom. I think this is one of the greatest advantages of municipal networks: your community can build the network the way you want it and not have to accept whatever the incumbents decide to give you.

- The size of LUS's network is something important to consider. It'll reach 120,000 customers when completed. While not everyone will sign up for service, it's likely they're going to be able to get at least half. Though that can't rival a big metropolitan city, I do think we're starting to get markets big enough for apps developers to start targeting them. Imagine if you could come up with an app that captured 10% of LUS's customers paying $10 a month; that would equate to $60k a month in revenue from one city, which should be enough to sustain a business.

- I still can't get over the parallels between LUS first being created to deploy electricity when no one wanted to come to Lafayette and as a result enabled their community to grow faster than its neighbors, and now the same thing's happening against a hundred years later with fiber.

- The smartest thing any utility can do is follow LUS's lead when building an internal fiber network. They realized that if they just put a few more fiber optic cables into the ground a decade ago they could position themselves to help support the future needs of their community. And the value you get for your money by making this decision at the outset is astounding. LUS paid 20% more when building the network to get 700% more capacity, and now are using that network to build out fiber to every home. I'd argue it's irresponsible for a utility not to at least put extra capacity when deploying a ring, especially one that's publicly owned, because of how that capacity can help prepare a community for the future.

- It's great to hear that Terry can't go anywhere in the city without people asking them about the fiber. From my trips there I still don't think the community really understands just how exciting the network they're getting will be, but at least they're excited enough to ensure that LUS will be a sustainable success from day one.

- One of my missions moving forward is to help educate and enlighten applications developers about the opportunities that exist in Lafayette to use its network and its peopel as a testbed for the next generation of big bandwidth apps. Not only that, I'm hoping that the capacity being put in place down there will also inspire new ideas for applications that were previously impossible in an era of bandwidth scarcity but now are becoming feasible in places like Lafayette that are entering an era of bandwidth overabundance.

This is the driving force behind the Lafayette CampFiber, which will bring local, regional, and national thought leaders together to discuss what's possible in terms of new apps on this revolutionary network.

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