Broadband installation set to begin this week in North Iberville area

Staff Report

Work is set to begin by the end of this week on installation of broadband internet capability for the northern portion of Iberville Parish.

Contractors will head to work on the project that will bring fast-speed internet to portions of Maringouin, Rosedale and Grosse Tete, according to Grosse Tete Mayor Mike Chauffe.

The installation will begin as the Iberville Parish school system continues the hybrid and virtual learning, which required online capability for students throughout the parish.

Grosse Tete Mayor Mike Chauffe

‘It’s coming together at a key time,” he said. “Everyone is glad it’s coming here because so many students need to have the broadband capability, so this will make it easier for them.”

A $15.5 million federally funded project will create or improve rural e-connectivity for more than 2,600 households, pre-subscribed businesses and farms across Iberville and Pointe Copuee parishes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Re-Connect Pilot Program will implement a high-speed broadband infrastructure project that will create or improve rural e-connectivity for 2,609 rural households, 12 pre-subscribed businesses and 16 pre-subscribed farms.

The program – one of the many funding announcements in the final round of USDA’s Re-Connect Pilot Program investments – also will benefit Iberville and St. Landry parishes. It is the program’s first venture in Louisiana.

“Through USDA’s Re-Connect Program, thousands of Louisianians living in rural communities will get access to the latest broadband technology that will connect them to opportunities in education, health care and economic development,” said Roy Holleman, the Louisiana director of the USDA.

“Under the leadership of President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural communities to deploy this critical infrastructure, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

The Re-Connect Program will offer federal financing and funding options in the form of loans, grants and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America that do not have sufficient access to broadband.

The program will generate private sector investment to deploy broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed Internet e-connectivity to as many rural premises as possible, including homes, community facilities for health care and public safety, schools, libraries, farms, ranches, factories and other production sites.

Funds will go toward the construction, improvement and acquisition of facilities required to provide service at a minimum of between 25 mbps (megabits per second) downstream and 3 mbps upstream.

“This program will bring fiberoptic gig speeds to areas that would’ve never seen something like this in an area,” said Tim May, general manager and owner of STAR Communications. “This is a long way for me, considering my grandfather started me in this business for delivery of phonebooks.”

The funds also can go toward acquisition of an existing system not providing sufficient access to broadband, under certain circumstances.

The program began in 2018 when Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America.