Gov. John Bel Edwards joins the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in announcing $277 million in grants to expand broadband across communities in Louisiana and 11 other states. The Acadiana Planning Commission worked with several partners during the application process and will receive a $29.9 million grant to increase internet accessibility in Acadia, St. Landry and Evangeline parishes where over 22,000 households and 2,300 businesses lack broadband. As a result, these unserved communities face limited opportunities to healthcare, education and economic competitiveness in the digital world. This aligns with the work Gov. Edwards started prior to the pandemic and is another big step toward Louisiana’s goal of eliminating the digital divide in Louisiana by 2029.
“The digital divide was a major problem long before the COVID pandemic, and that is why this grant program is significant and important. It will be transformative for thousands of Louisiana families, communities and businesses, bringing direct access to educational, healthcare and economic opportunities,” said Gov. Edwards. “This was made possible by a unique public-private partnership of the Acadiana Planning Commission, parish leaders, community stakeholders, internet service providers and the Biden Administration. It will serve to connect the unconnected, bring digital inclusion and equity to our residents, and allow our rural communities to be competitive in the 21st Century. This is further evidence of what good government can do for its citizens when we work together and prioritize the needs of the American people.”
“The support we are getting from Governor Edwards and his Office of Broadband is critical to bringing reliable, affordable, and accessible internet to revitalizing rural Louisiana. We are hoping that this is the first of many broadband grants to cover Acadiana and Louisiana with the internet needed to begin addressing some of our most critical issues.” said Monique Boulet, CEO of the Acadiana Planning Commission. “Our region and our state are on the frontlines of building broadband infrastructure and this will pay off for generations to come in Louisiana.”
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand broadband in communities across the U.S. NTIA is preparing to launch a series of new broadband grant programs funded by the law that will build broadband infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost broadband service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities. The grants were awarded to 12 states and one territory: Georgia, Guam, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.
In 2019, Gov. Edwards established the Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana Commission. In 2020, he created the Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity, or ConnectLA. Supplementing federal programs, Louisiana created the Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities grant program, or GUMBO for short, in 2021. This $177 million program will provide grants to private providers and electric co-ops to facilitate the deployment of broadband infrastructure, connecting the more than 471,000 unserved residents in our state.
"We are ecstatic that the Acadiana Planning Commission won a very competitive grant from NTIA to address the unserved issue to over 22,000 locations in the region,” said Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of ConnectLA. This grant will play a significant role in eliminating the digital divide and will complement the effort our office is undertaking to execute the GUMBO grant program."
Click here to read release from NTIA.