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LA Expected To Get $1.2 Billion For Statewide Digital Broadband Development

from file

LOUISIANA BROADBAND-   The digital divide is a term used to quickly describe the lack of access to high-speed / broadband internet services. Prior to the Coronavirus pandemic, few states had an agency that focused on bridging the gaps between communities that had reliable and affordable high-speed internet services and those who didn’t. Today each state has a broad-band office.

Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of Broadband Development and Connectivity for the state of Louisiana told members of the Baton Rouge Press Club this week how the pandemic brought to light the need for better broadband in Louisiana as well as the rest of the country.

March 2020 the pandemic hits, and that’s when you saw the scramble to get teachers, parents, students, small-business owners, farmers, public safety, you name it; the challenge then became how can I get access to high-speed, affordable internet,” Iyengar said.

Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of Broadband Development and Connectivity / LA cConnect
Courtesy: LA Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity
Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of Broadband Development and Connectivity / LA cConnect

Every aspect of life was affected by the pandemic as businesses, government agencies, schools, hospitals, needed to rely on internet services to function. And it was made clear that many communities didn’t have reliable broadband services. But thanks to the Biden Administrations’ bi-partisan infrastructure package

Louisiana was the first state to secure federal planning dollars to bring broadband to an estimated 1-point-5 million people throughout the state. Louisiana passed a law in 2020 creating its Office of Broadband and Connectivity, and hired the first executive director. Iyengar said everyone in Louisiana is a step closer to getting reliable and affordable high speed internet access as his office is working with officials in every parish to make it happen.

“And the challenge that we have in trying to solve this digital divide is really and truly a 64 parish challenge,” Iyengar said.

Iyengar says that once established, newly created broadband services will take about 5,000 skilled workers to operate and maintain and he added these jobs are either already part of or being added to curriculums in two-year colleges across the state. Louisiana is expected to get an estimated $1.2 billion in federal funding for digital broadband development.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.