State rejects Sparklight’s protest of Gumbo Grant in East Carroll Parish

Paves the way for a new fiber internet service provider to begin construction in Lake Providence
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 3:40 PM CDT
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LAKE PROVIDENCE, La. (KNOE) - Louisiana has rejected internet service provider Sparklight’s argument that it can provide high-speed internet in East Carroll Parish, which means a new fiber internet company can move in.

In July, Governor John Bel Edwards was in Lake Providence to announce the state’s most significant investment in broadband internet, including $4 million in East Carroll Parish.

However, that was put on hold in August when current provider Sparklight protested the grant, claiming they already provide reliable, high-speed internet.

Earlier this week, The Office of Broadband Connectivity denied the protest.

“Sparklight has not established what true speeds are available to its customers and has, therefore, failed to carry its burden of proof as the protestor,” the office says.

Linda Millikin of Delta Interfaith, an organization working to bring broadband access to East Carroll, says the new service will be a blessing.

“I have AT&T DSL, which is just a step above dial-up. I don’t have megabits. I don’t even know what megabits are,” Millikin told KNOE.

Millikin adds she will now be able to speak to her grandson, who lives in Baton Rouge, more easily.

“When we try and Facetime, it’s always introductions, poor connection, and he just disappears,” explains Millikin. “I will be able to talk to my grandson without interruptions, without him going away or anything like that.”

Millikin says she also believes improved internet service will increase access to affordable healthcare.

“People that don’t have transportation to go to Monroe, to go to Shreveport, to go to Jackson, to Vicksburg will be able to do it with their doctor at home,” says Millikin. “It will make healthcare better in this parish.”

Leartrice Hawkins, a lifelong Lake Providence resident and former teacher, believes the service will also help students learn.

“When you online trying to get information and all of a sudden it goes out, you lose it,” Hawkins says. “It goes away. You can’t find it again. You lost it. You’re at a loss.”

The service is expected to be up and running in 14-15 months.