Ground Zero: Lafayette

Lafayette’s fast becoming one of the most wired and inspired communities in the world Lafayette is on track to become Ground Zero for the next generation of the Internet. We all know about LUSFiber, the new communications offering from LUS, but did you know that it’s building the fastest residential broadband network in the country? Here in Lafayette, LUSFiber customers are getting more bandwidth for less money than anyone anywhere else in the U.S.

But so what? What’s the big deal about Lafayette becoming the most wired community in the country?

For years now there’s been talk of the Internet improving our lives, but in many ways that’s been more rhetoric than reality. Sure the impact has been profound, but we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible.

Some of what’s been holding us back is broadband networks that don’t offer enough bandwidth, or capacity. If you’ve ever waited too long for a page to load, watched a video that was choppy, or had to wait overnight to send or receive a large file, then you’ve experienced what it means to not have enough bandwidth.

Bandwidth is the lifeblood of the Internet. It refers to how much and how quickly information can be transferred. So the more bandwidth you have the faster you can do things. Bandwidth is really what you’re buying when you pay for broadband.

So what’s possible in a world with limitless bandwidth? In a place like Lafayette, La.?

Imagine downloading movies in seconds. Envision being able to talk to your doctor, teacher, or coworker via high-quality two-way video. Realize that with sufficient bandwidth, Lafayette can become the teleworking capital of the U.S. while creating a steady stream of work-at-home jobs. These ideas only scratch the surface of what’s possible.

These ideas aren’t new. Many have existed as concepts and limited trials for decades now; some even predate the Internet itself. But they have yet to take hold as integral to the way we live our lives.

Why? For one, bandwidth, or rather the lack thereof. Without a big enough pipe into your home you can’t use bandwidth-hungry applications like high-quality two-way video. But there’s been an even bigger hurdle to overcome, namely that no community has had an action plan in place to transform these good ideas into reality, to get everyone online and using these applications to improve their lives. Other fiber communities have had a “build it and they will come” mentality toward the adoption and use of their network. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work.

It leads to people getting left behind who don’t understand the complexities of using a computer, installing software, or navigating Web sites.

It ignores the fact that while the Internet is great for connecting you with a global community, more work needs to be done to leverage these networks to strengthen local communities.

And it does nothing to shake developers out of the mindset that they must create in a world of bandwidth scarcity, because we need them developing new experiences that leverage the capacity of fiber if we are to ever realize the full potential of this 21st century infrastructure.

None of these challenges are insurmountable, though. And in fact I strongly believe that Lafayette is perfectly positioned to be the community that overcomes them.

My reasoning for this belief stems from Lafayette’s unique mix of leaders, innovators, investors, community spirit, and culture. All of these elements add up to make Lafayette the perfect place to serve as the focal point for the development of the next generation of the Internet. And I’m committed to seeing this goal realized.

I’m a technology journalist by trade, and writing about online video and Internet applications has led me to fervently believe that fiber is our future.

I and many others in the community are now working toward the goal of making Lafayette into a shining city on the hill for fiber. To be the place people point to as an innovative leader to emulate. To be a testing ground for a new class of Internet applications empowered by fiber.

More specifically, I’m working to raise awareness among app developers across the country to wake them up to the fact that a network like LUSFiber exists.

I’m also working to put in place the social infrastructure needed to support innovation in Lafayette with initiatives like creating a citywide developer network, establishing mechanisms to connect local investors with local innovators, and bringing additional resources and expertise into the community to inform Lafayette’s leaders and creators.

But this is only the beginning. I want to give the community a sense of the significance of what’s happening here. Lafayette can be ground zero for the development of the next generation of the Internet.

To make this a success, though, we’re going to need all of you. We’re going to need everyone in the community committed to trying new things, to making sure we don’t leave anyone behind, to asking yourselves the question repeatedly: How can using broadband make my life better?

It’s important to note that this isn’t about technology; this is about access to information, to people, to entertainment, to experts, to loved ones. This is about improving efficiencies and expanding opportunities. This is about making your community as great as it can be.

I want the whole world to know about Lafayette, not just because of the fiber, but because I truly believe this is one of the most special places on earth. Your community has captured a piece of my heart that I leave behind every time I go away, and I want others to be able to share in your incredible culture and people.

This won’t be the last you hear from me, and I look forward to working with all of you to help Lafayette take a big step onto the world’s stage as the leader of fiber-centric innovation.

Geoff Daily is editor of , a blog covering the intersection of broadband networks, applications, and policy; is the leader of the Rural Fiber Alliance, a new organization of rural fiber deployers; and is working with LCG, LEDA and LUS as a fiber ambassador and adviser, helping to draw attention to Lafayette and put in place the social infrastructure to support innovation.