Lafayette's Answer to Net Neutrality: A City Operated Utility


The past couple weeks we've seen the FCC propose new rules they're calling "Net Neutrality". The people who have argued for Net Neutrality are calling it "Net Neutraility Lite" because it's lacking a lot of things they want - but includes basic protections.

One thing NNLite excludes is the reclassification of internet services as utilities rather than "information services."

So, we'll probably continue to pay high prices for DSL and cable internet. One alternative that the residents of Lafayette, Louisiana have fought for is the creation of a local internet utility. Rather than wait to have ISPs reclassified, they created an ISP that is a utility!

The company is called LUS Fiber, Their rates are great - around $30 a month for 10Mbps up and down. This is less than Charter cable and less than AT&T.

Lafayette is a city of 100,000 people. It took them five years of lawsuits, fighting against the phone and cable companies, to be allowed to build out their network and offer these very affordable and fast services to residents. Here's the story.

They have a very reasonable contract that even fails to include a common clause that prevents you from reselling internet access through your connection. So, you can buy one link, and resell it to your neighbors. The twist is that you, as the subscriber, are liable for all "bad things" that might happen through that connection.

So if your neighbor does something like show porn to minors, buy things with a fraudulent credit card, you are liable. That's a potentially hefty burden. But if you trust your neighbors, being able to share a connection would be a way to save money.

Despite this liability clause, this is closer to real "net neutrality" than most contracts. It treats every computer connecting to the network as, potentially, a whole other network. This leads to the internet quickly spreading as widely as possible, with greater affordability, than any other system.