At the 2014 Annual Conference of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA), FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler praised Lafayette, Louisiana, home of muni LUS Fiber, during his keynote address.
Wheeler addressed a variety of issues, including wireless broadband, the drive to increase competition, and a thoughtful transition to IP based 911 service.
While he did not address the pending petitions from Wilson, North Carolina and Chattanooga, Wheeler did express his admiration for LUS Fiber and the tough persistence of the local community:
However, I do encourage you to consider how local choice and competition can increase the broadband opportunities for your citizens. I love the story of Lafayette, Louisiana where the local incumbent fought the city’s fiber network tooth and nail, bringing multiple court challenges and triggering a local referendum on the project. Thankfully, none of the challenges managed to prevent deployment – sixty two percent of voters approved of the network in the referendum, and the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously sided with the city – but they did delay deployment almost three years. When the network was finally built, the community experienced the benefits of competition, as the local cable operator decided to upgrade its network. Local choice and competition are about as American as you can get.
We were pleased to hear the Chairman acknowledge the spirit of the community and how their efforts have paid off. Just this year, the community and its network attracted three new companies and approximately 1,300 new permanent and seasonal jobs. Lafayette has focused on improving its tech workforce in order to complement its next generation network – two critical ingredients to creating the Silicon Bayou.
Read more about Lafayette and LUS Fiber in our report, Broadband At the Speed of Light: How Three Communities Built Next Generation Networks.
For the entire text of Chairman Wheeler’s key note address, check out the transcript PDF online. You can also read more about the NATOA Annual Conference, held this year in St. Paul, Minnesota’s Lowertown.