High-speed broadband service being provided for local communities

High-speed internet is on the way to some Central Louisiana communities thanks to a federal grant.
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 5:07 PM CST
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CENTRAL LOUISIANA (KALB) - District 27 State Representative Mike Johnson officially announced that high-speed internet will be coming to some local communities. He said he has been in talks with the USDA, Suddenlink and AT&T over the past year on how to provide a broadband service for rural areas.

After Star Communications received funds from the USDA to improve service near Livonia last year, Rep. Johnson approached them on how they can use the USDA’s “Reconnect Program” to help local communities.

Tim May, the General Manager of Star Communications, said, “We sat down and said how can we make this happen. That was the start of the partnership with Representative Johnson to apply for the program.”

This project will cost $12.5 million and will help connect over 1,400 rural households to high-speed internet. Rep. Johnson said this project started from the ground up as community members signed affidavits of need for businesses and homes.

“I’m told per capita this is one of the largest numbers of submissions of private requests of any grant in the nation. This is really the people of these rural areas that are responsible for this. They made it clear that it applies here,” said Rep. Johnson.

The project is expected to take three to five years to complete and will not only help farms and businesses but schools as well.

Heath Laborde, an eighth-grader at Poland Jr. High School, said, “The virtual students need resources and need to be able to connect with the students and teachers to get the help they deserve and need.”

Providing a broadband service can also help make Central Louisiana communities more attractive for both residential and commercial.

Rep. Johnson said, “Every dollar spent is probably one of the best investments the state can make because when they’re investing in broadband, they’re investing in education, health, economic development and safety. I don’t know anything else that you can spend one dollar on and get $50 worth of value back.”

Rep. Johnson said he wanted areas like Buckeye and Deville to apply for the grant but the grant is only available for communities that have never had any type of broadband before.

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