FBA: Tell us about your organization. What should people know about you?
Teles Fremin, Interim Director of LUS Fiber: Municipally owned and community involved, LUS Fiber is the city of Lafayette’s award-winning telecommunications system. Composed of more than 700 miles of glass fiber, LUS Fiber provides residents and businesses access to video, Internet and phone services over the world’s leading broadband technology.
With the only 100% all-fiber network in the state of Louisiana, LUS Fiber is one of the country’s premier Internet leaders, offering the fastest home Internet in America as well as the nation’s first Gigabit Peer-to-Peer intranet. Communications has become the fourth utility, and LUS Fiber is the first municipal Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) system serving an entire community in Louisiana.
The Story of LUS Fiber:
In 1896, citizens and businesses of the often overlooked town of Lafayette voted to establish their own municipally-owned electric power and water production system. While public ownership meant more responsibility on the community, residents knew it also meant no longer being at the mercy of monopolies. Since its creation more than 120 years ago, Lafayette Utilities System (LUS) has served the people of Lafayette well. Customers of LUS enjoy high reliability, low rates and overall high customer service satisfaction.
Following suit (a mere 100 years or so later), the story of LUS Fiber was born from that same community-empowered spirit. In 1999, LUS upgraded its electric transmission grid control and monitoring technology by deploying a fiber optic ring around the city. And when the public asked for better telecommunications service, this initial infrastructure became the building blocks of the city’s answer. Lafayette residents no longer wanted to feel taken advantage of, or dismissed by, big cable companies. In 2005, Lafayette voters (by a 62-38% margin) gave LUS the authority to build the fiber project. Once again, the people of Lafayette decided they were worth the risk.
The existence of LUS Fiber created a competitive market in Lafayette. This met the need for more reliable service, not only for residents and businesses, but also for police, fire and hospitals. LUS Fiber achieved cash positive status in 2012, only 3 years after serving its first customer, which is rare in such a capital intensive industry. In 2017 the fiber project produced millions in excess revenue helping fund infrastructure improvements, expansion opportunities and community partnerships.
Our city faced tough opposition with the crucial LUS Fiber project. But instead of the challenge deterring them, our Lafayette leaders became that much more resilient. It is this unyielding mindset of community support that built Lafayette. What began as a fiber system to improve operations of the various facilities within the Lafayette Utilities System grew into a catalyst for local economic development, education innovation, and enhanced video, Internet and phone services. With a 95% customer satisfaction rating – an unheard-of phenomenon in the telecommunications industry – taking a chance on the LUS Fiber project clearly paid off.
FBA: What are you currently bringing to market?
TF: LUS Fiber is one of the first certified all-fiber networks in the nation. Offering up to 10 Gbps to all residential customers, LUS Fiber is providing the fastest home internet in the United States.
Also, with cost savings recognized by Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society as best in the nation, LUS Fiber provides the highest quality of services at extremely competitive rates.
In addition to our current voice, video and internet offerings, LUS Fiber recently launched connecTV, a full-featured app-based streaming TV service, making LUS Fiber one of the very first community-owned providers in the country to offer such a cutting-edge service.
LUS Fiber quickly became a beacon for Lafayette and continues to bring national and international recognition to our area.
FBA: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the fiber industry today? What is your advice for overcoming it?
TF: Recruiting talent, attracting talent and retaining talent is a challenge for all businesses, especially ours, which operates within the restraints of local government.
FBA: What excites you about the future of fiber?
TF: Our goal is to help improve the quality of life for our customers and increase the ways and efficiency in which our city operates. This can be achieved through smart technology, connectivity and applications, and LUS Fiber is a key enabler within this arena.
FBA: What’s your favorite show to stream with your fiber connection?
TF: As a mother of three rambunctious boys, with another due soon, my personal favorites have long gone out the window! I happily stream whatever keeps my children entertained and helps foster their imaginations.