Posted: Sep 30, 2021, 3:54 PM
Bossier Parish has money to spend that hopefully will encourage broadband providers to increase coverage in areas of the parish that have poor service or none at all, but residents hold the key to identifying areas most in need.
Parish Administrator Bill Altimus, who also serves on the Governor’s Broadband for Everyone in Louisiana (BEL) Commission, said residents can help by completing a quick, easy to understand test that will help the parish, state and federal government focus on areas where money may be provided to help bring services up to speed.
To learn about the service, and to take the speed test, please visit https://dra.gov/research/broadband-mapping/#speedtest.
“If people who live in areas where broadband service is non-existent or very poor, completing this test, will certainly help us,” Altimus said. “We are continuously talking to providers about coming to Bossier Parish. We need to be able to help them identify areas of most need.”
Altimus said financial resources for potential broadband providers is available in three areas: $342 million through the state Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), $180 million in the state GUMBO Grant Program and $1.8 billion for the state of Louisiana from the federal American Rescue Plan that targets water, sewer and broadband.
Bossier Parish received $5.8 million as its share of money allocated to the state from the RDOF to help incentivize companies hoping to provide coverage in underserved areas. Figures show 14,000 Bossier Parish residents (11.2 percent) do not have broadband service.
Bids were awarded to five providers for expansion of broadband services in Bossier Parish during the FCC’s RDOF Phase 1 auction last year.
“We have talked with these companies and others in the industry who want to expand their reach, and we want to incentivize them,” Altimus said. “But, again, we need to be able to show them the areas where broadband is needed most. We need our residents to help by completing this test.”
Altimus said a Bossier Parish Broadband Navigator Committee has been formed in anticipation of broadband expansion. The committee will focus on key issues important to the expansion of service and the future of broadband in the parish. Chairman of the 12-person committee is District 3 Police Jury member Philip Rodgers.