Sparklight files protest against new ISP expanding broadband in East Carroll
LAKE PROVIDENCE, La. (KNOE) - A long-awaited improvement in broadband services for East Carroll Parish is in jeopardy.
Earlier this month, the area’s current broadband provider, Sparklight, filed an official protest with the Louisiana Office of Broadband Connectivity to block a new provider from coming to the area.
“Sparklight just doesn’t want the competition here,” explained Wanda Manning.
Manning works with Delta Interfaith, a group whose goal is to end the digital divide in East Carroll Parish.
Just a month after Governor John Bel Edwards was in Lake Providence to announce the state’s largest investment in broadband internet, including a $4 million grant for East Carroll Parish, everything could be on hold.
“You have big telecom companies such as Sparklight once again coming into smaller communities and not allowing us to receive the necessary internet that we need,” Manning told KNOE.
Delta Interfaith has sent an open letter to Governor Edwards and Commissioner Jay Dardenne asking them to intervene in Sparklight’s “frivolous protest.”
“For two years, we have been working on trying to get affordable broadband in East Carroll Parish, and when we heard about the GUMBO grant, and we did the work to apply, we didn’t hear any hints of protests at all,” Linda Millikin of Delta Interfaith explained.
In a statement, Sparklight told KNOE, “The company currently services the Lake Providence area with high-speed internet. The company believes public grant funds would be best used in areas of Louisiana that do not already have access to broadband.”
However, Delta Interfaith says residents are unhappy with Sparklight’s speed and price.
“It is not reliable,” said Manning. “It works sometimes. Today, it will be working off and on. For the most part, we are struggling with Sparklight.”
The Office of Broadband Connectivity hopes to have a decision on the appeal by the end of September.
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