Northeast Louisiana gets $6.2 million broadband internet service extension

A big step has been taken toward bringing broadband Internet service to rural areas of northeast Louisiana.

Gov. John Bel Edwards was in Bastrop and Lake Providence on Monday to announce $6.2 million in grants have been awarded to help provide broadband services in select parishes in northeastern Louisiana.

“There’s no part of our state that needs this connection more than northeast Louisiana,” Edwards said. “I’m so excited for the private sector to join hands, take advantage of those federal dollars, and push to expand broadband.”

At a news conference at the East Carroll Parish Library in Lake Providence on Monday morning, Edwards announced that with $4 million from Conexon, a fiber optic network would be built in the parish, supplying nearly 2 000 homes and businesses broadband.

VOLT Broadband, a subsidiary of the Northeast Louisiana Power Co-Op, is currently building broadband access infrastructure in its coverage, which includes Franklin, Tensas and Madison parishes. The $2.2 million GUMBO (Grant Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities) grant will help the company finance the infrastructure.

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The company is partnering with Conexon, an internet service provider in Kansas City, Missouri, to bring broadband to the region. This company received $33 million from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act to build a fiber optic broadband network for the region.

The Legislature created the Grant Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) grant to provide funding to Internet service providers to provide high-speed Internet access to 400,000 people in Louisiana. The program will subsidize projects using funds from the US bailout, as well as the $2 trillion infrastructure package.

Senator Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe), State Representative Adrian Fisher (D-Monroe), State Representative Michael Echols (R-Monroe), State Representative Francis Thompson (D-Delhi) and Representatives of Sen. Bill Cassidy and Louisiana Civil Service Commissioner Foster Campbell were on hand Monday for the groundbreaking of the broadband infrastructure in Bastrop.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, VOLT Broadband directors and officials from northeast Louisiana were on hand for a Monday groundbreaking in Bastrop.

“Mr. Campbell truly believes in the importance of broadband,” said Campbell’s chief of staff, Tutu Baker. “This is a great day for Louisiana as it is a much needed service, especially in this area. Again, their efforts are greatly appreciated by the Public Service Commission and all those involved. “We are all excited to see this project moving forward. It will be at a reasonable cost for every household to have access to broadband in their homes.”

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Construction of the Morehouse Parish network began in June, NELPCO chief executive Jeff Churchwell said, with 50 miles of fiber already built.

The network should be operational by 2024.

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