GUMBO grant hopes to provide affordable, accessible internet for unserved areas

Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 4:39 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - It’s no secret there is a digital divide in rural parts of Louisiana. In order to help with the divide, a grant program called Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) was started.

GUMBO is geared toward helping private providers bring more accessible and affordable internet to areas in the state with low internet speed. On April 5, Executive Director of ConnectLA Veneeth Lyengar took a visit to north La. areas to speak with mayors about the progress.

“The $177 million from U.S. Treasury, we’re currently deploying that money through the state’s first broadband program called GUMBO. So the first of that money will be announced by the end of April, if not the first part of May. So, very soon. A number of companies have applied to bring highspeed internet to Caddo,” he said.

Ida Mayor Kenneth Shaw is one of several mayors anticipating better internet for his area.

“We have people that when land comes up for sale in our communities the first question they generally ask is about the internet. So, many people work from home now and there’s no internet available strong enough to work at home, so economically we’re at a standstill,” he said.

The next step in the process for ConnectLA is to award money to the contractors. Shaw said they also have work to do to get this up and running.

“We will create a broadband group for the area north of Shreveport so we can meet and make sure everyone is doing what we need to do,” he said.

Lyengar also met with leaders at Grambling and BPCC to talk about opportunities this could bring for their students.

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