High speed internet coming to rural North Louisiana
Louisiana Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell to support electric co-ops providing high speed internet across North Louisiana
MONROE, La. (KNOE) - Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell said he will support plans by two rural electric cooperatives in North Louisiana to compete for federal grants to develop internet service.
The cooperatives Claiborne Electric in Homer and Northeast Power in Winnsboro have provided electricity to rural North Louisiana customers since they were founded with government help nearly a year ago.
“We’re going to use that successful business model - targeted federal investment - to deliver broadband to areas that have few other options,” Campbell said.
Federal agencies are expected to distribute more than $600 million in Louisiana over the next ten years to expand high-speed internet service. Campbell has urged broadband providers to compete for that funding. “The funding is to help expand high-speed internet service from Minden, Louisiana, all the way to the Mississippi River.”
“These are our tax dollars,” he said. “Few public needs are as vital right now as broadband access, so we should fight to capture these dollars for our state.”
Campbell has said he will ask the PSC (Public Service Commission) this month to support proposals by both Claiborne and Northeast to create subsidiary companies that will offer internet service in their regions. The Louisiana co-ops are part of a trend across the country of New Deal-era power cooperatives entering the broadband business.
“We are in desperate need, especially up and down the Mississippi Delta where some of the worst poverty in the United States exists. We want our children to learn, we want our business to grow, and we want our hospitals to be in communication with everybody. Lawyers, banks, you name it. We want to get on the map, and the best way to get on the map is to have a good, successful, high-speed internet business,” the Commissioner emphasized.
The coverage is expected to service 13 parishes in North Louisiana, providing better coverage to approximately 50,000 homes and business in the next 3-5 years.
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