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January 24, 2011 2:54 PM

The Future Of Public Media Happening In Lafayette, LA

Over the weekend, my team executed the second phase of our experiment in building the future of fiber-powered public media in Lafayette, LA: delivering live high quality video from the Acadiana Center for the Arts (ACA) both out to the web but also to TV sets across our region through Acadiana Open Channel (AOC).

It used to be that getting live video from an event onto a TV screen was a big ordeal, requiring satellite trucks and lots of expensive and complicated equipment. On Saturday we proved that in a world with fiber, it doesn't need to be that difficult.

What made this experiment possible is the LUSFiber intranet, a 100Mbps symmetrical community-wide LAN that every LUSFiber subscriber has access to for free.

Using this intranet we were able to deliver a 5-7Mbps standard definition stream from ACA (Lafayette's new world-class performing arts facility) to AOC (Lafayette's public media leader) and then out over AOC's public access channel through both LUSFiber and COX's cable TV systems.

Now, it took some hard work on the part of many dedicated individuals to make everything stream seamlessly, but the end result is a low cost solution that portends a new future for civic engagement.

I refer to a "new future for civic engagement" as during the run up to this Netcast project (distinguishing it from "webcast" which means streaming to the Internet) we actually had the encoder plugged in and delivering video from someone's house in Lafayette. While the video wasn't going out through AOC's TV channel, it easily could have.

What this means is that we're nearing the point whereby anyone can deliver live video from their event not just to the Internet but also to TV sets in their area.

And this future is where FiberCorps is aiming to take this Netcast project. Our next major milestones for this project are:

- Deliver live HD video to TV sets
- Deliver the stream to other communities across the US
- Develop a black box to make netcasting easy for anyone in the community

While we have a clear path for how to move this project forward, we shouldn't ignore the significance of what's already happened.

During the first phase of this project when we tried this out at another event in December, it was the first time any event had been webcast or netcast from ACA. And while that event (Medicine Show 14) had been broadcast via radio and online for years, it was the first time it'd be broadcast using video.

Perhaps summing it up best, Ed Bowie, AOC's executive director, referred to this as "the most momentous day for AOC since we opened the doors" as he sees the significance of what this could mean for redefining what public media can mean in a fiber-powered community like Lafayette.

As a reminder, FiberCorps is the new non-profit I moved to Cajun Country to start up. Our mission is to energize the Lafayette community to be a hub for fiber-powered innovation.

But this project could not have happened without the support of our local partners: AOC, ACA, Louisiana Crossroads, LUSFiber, and the hard-working volunteers who helped make the broadcast possible.

This is but one of many projects FiberCorps is working on in our continuing efforts to showcase and foster fiber-powered innovation in Lafayette. So look forward to hearing more from me here on App-Rising.com, and later this week we'll be launching our new site at FiberCorps.com where you can keep up to date on all the latest exciting happenings going on down in Lafayette.

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