Commentary

Broadband Wars

A hundred years ago, when Louisiana was still literally in the dark, residents of Lafayette banded together to build a city-owned electric utility where once there was little more than swampland. Today, at the dawn of the 21st century, it is hatching plans to lay out its own state-of-the-art fiber-optic broadband network. This time, the city’s futuristic ambitions are challenged not by the rigors of geography but by obstacles of business: specifically, telecommunications giant BellSouth and cable provider Cox Communications, which claimed the region as their own years ago. But the historic coastal community, known for its eclectic culture and rhythmic zydeco music, is not about to abandon the pioneering spirit that begat its visionary reputation. After a legal skirmish earlier this year, the two sides are preparing for a citywide election slated for mid-July that will decide the issue.

Of course this issue is surfacing all over the nation:

CNET News.com has created an interactive municipal broadband legislative map that details the major battlegrounds on the issue. At stake is the fate of high-speed Internet access for millions of Americans, hinging on a fundamental question of civics and economics–whether the government or private industries should take the leading role in building out what’s considered this generation’s critical infrastructure challenge.

Whole article here. Well worth reading.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.