The Vermilion Parish Police Jury took the first step to allow the Lafayette Utility System’s LUS Fiber to place its fiber lines in Vermilion Parish.

Ryan Meche, the LUS Fiber director, made a sales pitch to the Vermilion Parish Police Jury as to why LUS Fiber, which provides underground fiber for TV, Internet, and telephones, wants to locate in Vermilion Parish.

“LUS Fiber is committed to partnering with Vermilion Parish to address their need for broadband services. LUS Fiber has long recognized that access to a high speed, the reliable broadband network is crucial for societal and economic health,” said Meche.

Meche said installing fiber throughout the parish would cost around $30 million. Meche told the police jury that LUS Fiber would install fiber in two phases.

The first phase would cover most of the Maurice area, parts along La. 167, and a small amount of Abbeville.

The fiber in Phase 1 would be installed underground along La. 14 from Gueydan to Erath. Phase 1 will only provide 30 percent of parish homes and businesses with fiber.

Not until Phase 2 would fiber be installed in all of Gueydan, Kaplan, Abbeville, Erath and the rest of the parish.

“Our 100 percent fi- ber broadband service will enable Vermilion Parish to offer new job opportunities, improve options for healthcare and education, and gen- erally connect this re- gion with the rest of the world,” said Meche.

LUS Fiber, and phone service, is locat- ed in Lafayette, Scott, Carencro, and some of Youngsville. Today, it is expanding its service along La. 90 toward New Iberia.

How much will it cost?

LUS Fiber will be competing for grant money from the federal government.

The Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities, GUMBO for short, is a grant program with $177,000,000 to increase broadband ac- cess to unserved communities in Louisiana.

The program defines unserved as those with download speeds lower than 25mbps and uploads speeds lower than 3mbps.

Companies like LUS Fiber will apply for funds from GUMBO and use it to help pay for the cost of installing fiber in Vermilion Parish.

To complete Phase 1 is expected to cost around $10 million.

The police jury has agreed to put up $2 million (20 percent), and LUS Fiber contributes $2 million (20 percent) to secure grant money.

The other 60 percent ($6 million) will come from the GUMBO grant program.

When will fiber begin to be laid down?

Meche said LUS Fiber would apply to GUMBO to receive grant money.

Once GUMBO approves a specific grant funding, LUS Fiber will begin the process.

Meche said the entire project could take a year to install all the fiber lines.

What is LUS Fiber?

LUS Fiber is a subsidiary of the Lafayette Utilities System offer- ing internet, television and telephone service based on its fiber optic network which runs to the doorstep of subscribers in its coverage area.

Unlike traditional copper wire networks, fiber optic cable allows for incredible amounts of bandwidth, both

upstream and downstream. LUS Fiber began offering commercial service in 2005, but the beginnings of the system — a ring of dark fiber around the city of Lafayette — had been planted a decade earlier.

LUS Fiber provided the first gigabit peer- to-peer intranet in the nation and currently claims it is the fastest home internet service in the United States.

By Chris Rosa; Originally published 12/19/21