As Lafayette, Louisiana, puts muni broadband to a vote, a spate of stories appears: Lafayette has had a very public, very malicious debate going over whether the city should build its own fiber infrastructure. One incumbent threatened to pull call-center jobs. BellSouth has been fighting tooth and nail against the proposal. There's a good overview at News.com. A broader piece appears in PC World, covering the range of projects and positions on the issue. And USA Today weighs in, as well.
Another voice in the Lafayette debate is our old friend The Heartland Institute which released another one-sided report that cherrypicks numbers from what they say is a comparable network built by the same consultants working with Lafayette. I'm waiting for the refutation of this latest analysis. In the past, Heartland and others have taken a 100-percent contrary position, which can never be described as reasonable, and used outdated and mischaracterized details of most municipal broadband networks to show how they, without exception, fail financially. Heartland doesn't disclose its funding.
Meanwhile, in Marin County, Calif., you can see some of the back story as to why some cities are concerned about a loss of control over who offers what. The county and the 10 cities and towns that a collective board represent collect $2 million a year from Comcast for franchise fees, which ostensibly cover using public rights of way. SBC wants to compete by laying fiber and offering television services over broadband, but the telecom authority wants it to come under franchise rules to preserve that revenue. SBC argues it's not a TV service in the same way as Comcast.