Louisiana to get $1.3 billion to expand broadband

The White House announced that Louisiana will be getting over $1.3 billion to expand broadband to everyone. In the state, it is estimated that 25% of households do not have access to reliable and affordable internet.

“It’s not a luxury. It’s a necessity,” said Rep. Troy Carter, D-Louisiana.

Many of those who do not have broadband or can afford it are people spread out in the more rural parishes in the northern part of the state. As part of a national $42 billion investment, the objective is to speed up the process to expand broadband that has already started under the GUMBO Grant.

“Some places, even if they could afford it, there was just no fiber, no cable, no infrastructure, no network,” Carter said.

The money will be for matching investments from private companies so they can set up shop in the underserved areas. Louisiana will have to get the programs up and running over the next 4-5 years – per stipulations for the money.

“It’s a large amount of dollars in a very finite period of time to ensure universal coverage for Louisiana,” said Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of ConnectLA. Louisiana received one of the biggest pots of money for broadband compared to the rest of the country.

“We made investing in broadband a priority when negotiating the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and now Louisiana is seeing the benefit,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana. “This is a historic $1.3 billion investment that will enable millions of Louisiana students, small businesses, and families to reach their full potential with access to high-speed internet.”

The state has been pushing the private partnerships to first reach areas that do not have any coverage, then will advance to those with less reliable broadband.

“In this case, because we had been so aggressive as an office and in partnership with the governor and really the legislature in pushing really aggressively or for as many dollars as we can receive in our allocation, it came out really well,” Iyengar said.

Companies can already apply for this funding to get the ball rolling on getting internet to everyone.

Gov. John Bel Edwards celebrated the award from the White House in this statement:

“I want to thank President Biden, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and the NTIA for recognizing and supporting our important mission of making broadband available to all Louisianans, and I want to thank Senator Bill Cassidy and Congressman Troy Carter for voting for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that made this investment possible. This broadband expansion will accelerate the growth of Louisiana’s economy while increasing access to education and health care. We will work urgently to deploy these funds and ensure that 100 percent of Louisiana businesses and residences receive access to high-speed, affordable, and reliable internet by 2029.”

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