LUS announces number of subscribers

The city-owned LUS Fiber telecommunications service has more than 14,000 subscribers, city-parish officials announced Tuesday in the first release of customer numbers since the fiber-optic service launched in 2009.

City-parish officials have kept the number of subscribers a closely guarded secret, arguing that state law does not require the publicly owned service to release what could be viewed as sensitive competitive information.

LUS Fiber Director Terry Huval said Tuesday that he decided to release the subscriber figures in part to demonstrate that the four-year-old Internet, telephone and television service is well on its way to success.

“The tough years are behind us,” he said.

Huval said the more than 14,000 subscribers account for about a third of the potential customer base for LUS Fiber in the city of Lafayette of 43,250, a number derived from the water connections to homes and businesses.

LUS Fiber’s main competitors for those customers are Cox Communications and AT&T.

The announcement on Tuesday comes after an audit released earlier this month showed that LUS Fiber operating revenues rose from $17,010,937 in 2011 to $24,041,236 in 2012.

The revenue in 2012 was enough to cover debt payments on the $125 million the city borrowed to build the fiber-optic system and most operating expenses with the exception of depreciation, which is not a cash expense but rather the declining value of aging equipment.

With depreciation, the system ended 2012 with a loss of $11,869,564, compared with a loss of $16,519,323 in 2011, according to the audit.

LUS Fiber is projected to be self-sustaining by 2015, covering all operating expenses, debt service and depreciation, Huval said.

Huval on Tuesday also announced that LUS Fiber has launched a free wireless service at Acadiana Mall and plans to gradually roll out wireless services at parks and other public areas.

“We expect to do more down the road in other areas,” Huval said.