[opendtv] News: La. Utility Mulls Muni System

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: OpenDTV Mail List <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 07:47:38 -0400

Recently I spoke at a Technology incubator conference in Lafayette, 
La, and had the opportunity to chat with the director of the 
Lafayette Utilities System, about their desire to overbuild a 
fiber-to-the-home system in the Parrish. The system would compete 
with Cox Cable and Bellsouth, delivering television and telephony 
services. According to the gentleman I spoke with, there is plenty of 
room for LUS to undercut Cox Cable rates, which he described as 
producing obscene levels of profitability for Cox operations in the 

This may be a sign of things to come, as more and more municipalities 
that are in the utilitiy business look to expand revenue producing 
services, as a way to increase revenues in lieu of direct taxation. 
For example, out counties largest industrial polluter, Gainesville 
Regional Utilities, transfers tens of millions in revenues into the 
City of Gainesville treasury each year; a county utility tax on GRU 
services does much the same for the county coffers. GRU is now 
providing broadband services to businesses around the community that 
are within reach of the fiber-optic trunk they placed around the city 
a few years ago.


La. Utility Mulls Muni System
(excerpted from the 6/21/04 edition of 

A statistical battle is being waged between incumbent cable providers 
and the Lafayette (La.) Utilities System, a municipal utility that is 
building its case for extending its business into broadband and 
video-delivery with the local parish council.

The utility currently provides electricity, water and sewage services 
to the 190,000-population parish, but would now like to install a 
fiber-to-the-home plant to deliver cable services.

The project's backers believe the can utility provide these products, 
plus telephony, to its present 55,000 residential and 6,000 business 
customers for less than its would-be commercial rivals, including Cox 
Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp.

LUS has spent three years studying other municipal overbuild models, 
and recently presented a feasibility study to the parish council, 
including the results of a poll conducted on its behalf by a Kansas 
marketing firm.

The company took a separate poll of business and residential 
customers, asking if they would be likely to patronize a 
municipally-run telecommunications provider. According to the report, 
78% of households said they'd buy at least expanded basic cable from 
a municipal overbuilder, while 74% said they'd purchase phone service.

According to local press accounts, the parish council was mixed in 
its response to the proposal presented June 8.
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