The city-owned fiber optic service will offer a gigabit Internet connection to residential customers for $69.95 a month, a top-tier speed even in the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., LUS Fiber announced Tuesday.

“It puts us as one of the few communities in the country with this capability,” said LUS Fiber Director Terry Huval.

LUS Fiber also announced changes in its pricing structure on Tuesday, raising the monthly rate for all Internet customers by $5 while doubling the speed at every level of service for the new price.

For example, the old basic service of 10 megabits for $28.95 is now a 20 megabit service for $33.95.

LUS Fiber already offered gigabit service to business customers for $1,000 a month, a price that will remain.

Huval said the business price is much higher because businesses are more intensive users of the service than residential customers and must have greater assurances of reliability.

Huval said LUS Fiber in recent weeks has secretly tested the ability to expand the gigabit service to residential customers, giving users the top-tier connection without telling them to make sure the system could handle it.

“We just opened the valve up,” Huval said.

He said the test found no issues.

The news of LUS Fiber’s gigabit residential offering came on the same night the council heard the results of an annual audit of the telecommunications service, which launched in 2009.

LUS Fiber still operates at a loss when depreciation is factored in.

Huval said revenues continue to rise while expenses fall, and he expects the telecommunications service to be self-sustaining by 2015, which is in line with earlier projections.

“You are definitely on the right track with this. You are moving in the right direction,” said Burton Kolder, whose accounting firm did the annual audit for city-parish government.