Future of broadband in Grant Parish being laid in Georgetown

The first fiber laid in Grant Parish using GUMBO grant funds will be in Georgetown.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 8:23 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLFAX, La. (KALB) - On Monday, March 13, officials from the state’s Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity (Connect LA) and Swyft Fiber announced the first fiber laid in Grant Parish using GUMBO grant funds will be in Georgetown.

The Village of Georgetown, with a population of fewer than 300 people, is nestled in North Grant Parish, not far from the parish line of LaSalle. Unless drivers take a turn off of Highway 165, there is not much to see. However, in the next few weeks, residents will see busy crews digging rows to lay down fiber optic cables underground, connecting residents with a new internet provider, Swyft Fiber.

The slowest speed Swyft will provide is 100 mbps and, per GUMBO grant guidelines, it must be at an affordable rate.

“In the next 18 months, the 1,900 or so locations, homes and businesses in Grant Parish, eligible for GUMBO funding, should have fiber optic, high-speed internet to their homes,” said State Rep. Gabe Firment (R-District 22).

Over the next several months, Swyft will put in fiber throughout Grant Parish, including in the areas of Dry Prong, Fishville, Pollock, Colfax, Montgomery and Nantatchie.

“The days of overpaying for garbage service are going to go away.”

Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of Connect LA

In accordance with the GUMBO grant’s contractural obligations, Swyft must complete the installation within a set timeline of 18 to 23 months. The project is a total of nearly $7.9 million, with the GUMBO grant going toward about $3.9 million of the project cost.

“It’s a big deal for the folks in this parish,” said Iyengar. “What we’re trying to do with this office, is we’re trying to eliminate the digital divide that exists, not just in this parish, but among all the parishes and among the 1.7 million people in Louisiana who do not have access to reliable high-speed internet.”

However, providing the infrastructure framework will not come without a little disruption for residents. Fiber officials emphasized local officials from the parish need to overcommunicate with residents that the service provider will likely be digging up bushes, tearing up grassy areas and drilling into roadways and sidewalks. That is because the fiber will be installed entirely underground. With the mandatory timeline as well, the network will work around the clock, save for an act of God event, to install the fiber.

Residents can expect a marketing campaign regarding the service to begin soon, with signage, door hangers and social media posts advertising the new provider.

However, the connectivity will come from beyond GUMBO funding.

Going forward, fiber will also be installed through the federally-funded Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which is an FCC program with a six-year build timeline. RDOF will cover 3,500 addresses.

The state will also allocate an additional estimated $1 billion of infrastructure funding in the upcoming legislative session to the GUMBO program, to further build connections for underserved communities, including Grant Parish, where 38.6% of the population is considered unserved.

“Everybody understands now that high-speed internet now is not a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said Firment. “Especially for millennials, for younger people, if you don’t have high-speed internet, they’re not gonna stay in these rural communities.”

In total, Central Louisiana was awarded $26 million in GUMBO funds from phase one of the program.

For more on what areas are covered under GUMBO grant funding awards, CLICK HERE.

Click here to report a typo. Please provide the title of the article in your email.