LUS Fiber History
We continually look for ways to build up our community and look forward to expanding our services to nearby areas.
LUS Fiber has nearly two decades of experience with the fastest networks in the nation.
In the late 1990s, the Lafayette Utilities System (Lafayette’s municipally owned utilities company) needed to upgrade its outdated microwave system for connecting their substations. LUS chose to upgrade with Fiber Optic technology. In 2002, after installing the system for their needs, they used the surplus fiber optic strands to provide wholesale service to hospitals, universities and the Lafayette Parish School System.
In 2004, the city announced its proposal for a municipal fiber network providing broadband internet, cable TV, and telephone services to the City of Lafayette. 70 percent of residents and 80 percent of businesses responded positively to a market survey conducted by LUS. The questions asked and the raw results of the telephone poll were requested by interested parties in the public but were never released. The announcement of the project came just one day after the closing of submission of some new bills in the state legislature. This would presumably prevent a challenge in the state legislature by the incumbent phone and cable provider, as there are many laws on the books regulating phone and cable TV providers, but no laws regulating a local municipality entering such business sectors.
Representatives from the ILEC (Incumbent Local Exchange Provider) Bellsouth (now AT&T) lobbied representatives in the legislature to modify an existing bill to regulate municipal entities entering into the telecommunications business. This bill, negotiated between representatives from Bellsouth, Cox Communications, LUS, Louisiana Energy and Power Authority, Louisiana Municipal Association, and Louisiana policy jury association, became the Local Government Fair Competition Act of 2004. This bill was adapted from the Municipal Telecommunications Private Industry Safeguards Act, a model piece of legislation provided by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). 
As per the requirements of Local Government Fair Competition Act (LGFCA), LUS conducted a Feasibility Study and presented the study in November 2004. The Lafayette City-Parish Council voted to adopt the study and proceed with the sale of bonds by resolution in December 2004 and opted to forgo a referendum. This resolution resulted in a petition for a referendum in January 2005 and a subsequent lawsuit in February. The petition was conducted by a non-profit group calling themselves Fiber411.com. The group was founded by 3 citizens of Lafayette who spoke out at the public hearings against the Feasibility Study and were later joined by other volunteers and concerned citizens. While some accused the group of being shills for Bellsouth and Cox, the three were of backgrounds in oil and gas leasing, home building, and oilfield engineering respectively, had never met prior to November 2004 and had no ties to the communications industry nor local government.
The petition was participated in by members of Fiber411.com and community volunteers as well as volunteers from Bellsouth and Cox. The petition was highly contested by the administration and was ultimately not recognized as a valid petition. Fiber411.com, being a volunteer group, decided not to sue to enforce the petition due to lack of funds. Bellsouth filed suit over the petition and won. The decision was based on the judge’s determination that the City had used the incorrect set of Louisiana State laws to seek the sale of bonds that precluded a referendum mechanism. The district court decision further ruled that the petition used by Fiber411 was written to appeal to the correct set of state laws that the City should have been using. The City of Lafayette then had to decide if it would try again to sell bonds with or without a referendum. The City decided to have a referendum.
The City of Lafayette hosted a series of “Town Hall” meetings where the Fiber project was discussed. Local Political Action Committees calling themselves LafayetteYes and LafayetteComingTogether made up largely of political allies of the Administration, consultants, etc. raised and spent over $300,000 for media campaigns. Fiber411.com spent approximately $10,000 and Bellsouth spent less than $5,000. Cox spent $0.00 on the campaign. As such, the media campaign was very one-sided.
On July 16, 2005, the proposal was put to a vote, and the residents of Lafayette approved of the City’s plan by a margin of 62% for and 38% against. In order to raise money for the project, the city had to borrow money through tax-exempt bonds. Again the state cable association and BellSouth sued Lafayette, alleging the bond ordinance didn’t comply with state law. The suit was won by the city in district court but an appellate court panel ruled 3-0 that the City’s ordinance to sell bonds violated the Local Government Fair Competition Act’s requirement that the money to fund the fiber project must not be subsidized by funds from the existing utilities system.
Lafayette followed up the court loss with a new ordinance that amended the original. Two citizens of Lafayette sued (known as Elizabeth Naquin et al.) as well as Bellsouth. Bellsouth inexplicably declined to pay court costs for submission of the suit and ended up dropping the suit. Naquin et al. remained. LUS won in district court, but the appeals court again decided 3-0 that the City’s ordinance violated the Local Government Fair Competition Act in a similar manner as the original ordinance. This time the City appealed to the Louisiana State Supreme court. The high court decided that the appeals court’s ruling to enjoin (prevent) the city from selling bonds was based on a brief that was filed too late. When the high court threw out this brief, the argument that had succeeded in appeals court was no longer allowed. A unanimous ruling by the Louisiana State Supreme court reversed the appeals court’s decision. This allowed the City to proceed with the sale of the bonds to fund the project.
In 2007, Lafayette was finally able to start issuing bonds. Construction started in 2008 on the network, and the first customers were receiving service in February 2009.
Throughout our history, LUS Fiber has been committed to the growth and prosperity of the Acadiana region, becoming an industry leader and constructing a fiber optic system which delivers the fastest home internet in the U.S. as well as the nation’s first gigabit peer-to-peer intranet. In 2015, the White House cited LUS Fiber as an example of providing access to fast and affordable broadband internet service. Mozilla designated Lafayette as one of five Mozilla Gigabit Communities in 2017, bringing up to $300,000 in private grants to Lafayette. In 2018, Harvard University ranked LUS Fiber No. 1 for providing the most affordable fiber network in the nation.
Today, we operate one of the nation’s largest municipal fiber-to-the-home networks providing internet, video and phone services, utilizing the only technology capable of delivering symmetrical speeds up to 10 Gigabits per second to the end user.
Not only does LUS Fiber’s network ensure that residents have access to the robust connectivity of high-quality, high-speed fiber broadband for communication, online learning, telehealth, managing business in a digital economy, and more, but it also increases the strength and stability of the markets it serves and surrounding areas through the revenue it brings in and by driving other providers to be more competitive.
The LUS Fiber team is committed to expanding our delivery of services to help ensure that all individuals have equal access to opportunities and resources. When the COVID-19 pandemic sent schools into virtual-learning scenarios with so many students learning from home, LUS Fiber collaborated with the Lafayette Parish School System and the Love Our Schools nonprofit organization to bridge the digital divide for students across the parish, enhancing Wi-Fi areas and providing free internet to families in need
In 2021, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded a $3.1 million grant to LUS Fiber in partnership with Acadiana Planning Commission (APC) for the development and construction of broadband infrastructure into rural southwest Louisiana. This Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) grant from the EDA, enabled by the CARES Act, funded the expansion of LUS Fiber’s certified all-fiber network through additional portions of Lafayette Parish, St. Martin Parish and Iberia Parish. Construction began in 2021 and is expected to be completed within two years.
Growth and expansion continued in 2021 with the announcement that LUS Fiber would begin serving apartment communities. Just as we have promised from our inception, we continue to bring more and more neighborhoods and businesses into our service area.
Also in 2021, LUS Fiber was named Top 100 Fiber-to-the-Home leader and innovator for 2021. With the tagline “Building a Fiber-Connected Work,” Broadband Communities Magazine publishes this Top 100 list each year to highlight organizations who are advancing fiber-based broadband. For LUS Fiber, this represented yet another milestone in our success story and furthered our positive growth momentum.
In 2022, LUS Fiber announced its expansion into Ville Platte, Louisiana, ranked as having the fifth slowest average internet rate in the U.S. according to a recent internet speed analysis conducted by HighSpeedInternet.com. This expansion was made possible through funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program received over 240 applications requesting more than $2.7 billion, approximately 10 times more than the $288 million available; LUS Fiber was proud to have been awarded $21 million to serve the rural Louisiana communities of Ville Platte, Church Point, Eunice, Mamou, and Basile with the build-out of over one million feet of fiber-optic cable infrastructure. The development and construction of a state-of-the-art broadband infrastructure in these rural communities will address the significant digital divide, serve as a catalyst for growth and opportunity, and offer access to previously unavailable resources.
LUS Fiber is getting ready to celebrate 20 years of outstanding service to our customers, and we look forward to many more. We want to help other communities create the opportunities that we enjoy by building an all-fiber network and having internet access at the speed of light.