Internet for All Provides Access for Rural Users

According to the US Department of Commerce High Speed internet access isn’t a luxury.  It’s needed to fully engage in the economy, and it helps ensure public safety and the health of our nation.  ABC 31 News’ Joel Massey tells us more about the program seeing to provide Broadband Internet for all and he caught up with a family who needs just that.

“It’s very hard to get on to do any kind of social media, it’s actually faster using our phone data.”

Sherri Critcher and her family live in Mora Louisiana in rural Rapides Parish.  She and her daughter Jessica and granddaughter Keer-uh are basically living without Internet in their house.

“It is completely slow most of the time we don’t even have Internet definitely whenever the weather is bad there’s pretty much no signal.  So therefore we have no Internet.”

Broadband for school projects is very essential these days and 13-year-old Kirah says it’s hard to do her homework with no signal.”

“Well sometimes the Internet will not work at all and it makes it literally impossible for anything to be done which makes the assignments late whenever you are trying to do homework for school which is really frustrating.”

Sherri says a strong Internet signal is important for her plans for the future.

“That would be extremely helpful because I want to work from home because I live next door to my mom and I take care of her.  So in order to make a little extra money from home is literally impossible right now.”

There is a federal program called Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment or BEAD which has set aside 42 and a half billion dollars to expand high speed internet.  Anyone in Louisiana can apply for this grant but act quickly the application is due August 15.  All you need to do is visit Internet for all dot gov and follow the instructions to create an account.

AT&T is committed to bringing access to rural communities whether it be hard lines or wireless technology.  Lavar Greenhouse with AT&T tells us more.

“We’re working with the police jury we’ve been in conversations with leadership throughout Rapides Parish just looking at how we can expand our footprint.”

He says there is a growing need for fast Internet.

“What we saw is that during and after the pandemics there was in increase desire for homes to connect to the internet whether it was for learning telehealth for play.”

AT&T has invested 1.1 billion dollars in Louisiana and 40 billion of that went to Rapides parish to connect homes and businesses like these with fiber optic technology.

“Those are no federal dollars the GUMBO grant they haven’t been awarded yet.”

Even though the Louisiana GUMBO money isn’t out to the communities it has been assigned with Fifth Ward in Avoyelles Parish being the only Cenla area to get some.

Jessica, Kirah and Sherri say they would love it if a broadband carrier would come to Mora.

“That would be extremely exciting if we could get any halfway of a broadband out there.”

Again the website to visit if you want to apply for federal broadband services is www.InternetforAll.gov and that deadline is August 15.

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