For more than two years, the prospect of expanding to two nearby communities has been on the LUS Fiber to-do list in Lafayette. Now that the municipal fiber optic network has achieved at least a 40 percent take rate, the time is right to reach Youngsville and Broussard.
In 2016, the utility generated $36 million in revenue, according to Director of Utilities Terry Huval. The triple-play network has been generating profits since 2013; this will be the first expansion outside of Lafayette city limits.
Poised Pretty, Prudent Planning
Within the next few weeks, LUS plans to begin installing fiber in one subdivision in Broussard and one subdivision in Youngsville. The expansion will progress in “measured steps,” said Huval, so LUS Fiber can evaluate interest in the new areas. “Like any business,” he said, “we have to be prudent in how we expand.”
Back in 2015, we reported on potential expansion plans that would have required the two communities to pay for the cost of expansion. At the time, Brossard and Youngsville weren’t keen on the idea, but now LUS Fiber is in a position to tackle the project without financial assistance from the two towns. The network has still not reached every premise in Lafayette, but Huval looks at the opportunity to reach Youngsville and Broussard as a way to solidify the utility’s financial position to complete the city deployment.
Some subdivisions were developed in the city after LUS Fiber’s first bond sale, so they have not been serviced yet, Huval said. But LUS Fiber will be extended to those areas in the city at the same time fiber is extended to some areas of Youngsville and Broussard, he said.
“Every home (in the city of Lafayette) will have access to fiber,” Huval said. “That’s the intention.”
“The investment is very small compared to what the benefits could be down the road for us,” Huval said, adding that the expansion is being paid for strictly with proceeds from the original bond issue or self-generated revenue.
Lafayette overcame attacks by the incumbent cable provider Cox Communications, which sued to prevent the deployment and preserve a lack of competition in the city. The network began serving the community in 2009 and now brings high-quality, affordable, reliable connectivity to the community of 124,000. New enterprises have invested in Lafayette, bringing better paying jobs and ancillary economic development. The community has earned the nickname “Silicon Bayou.”
You can read about the city’s challenges and how they improved Internet access for the community in our 2012 report, Broadband at the Speed of Light.
Listen to Christopher interview Huval in episode 144 of the Community Broadband Bits podcast.