Biden’s infrastructure bill will provide better high-speed internet access, which will help rural Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana (WAFB) – Besides roads and bridges, another part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill will focus on providing high-speed internet services across the country, especially in rural areas . Which could have a major impact on some parishes in the state.

The busiest restaurant in Clinton, Louisiana is Johnny B’s Café, their specialty is burgers, but one thing that isn’t on the menu is internet service. “A while back we had the internet and we tried to make it work as our ATM and stuff like that. It went down sometimes, and lasted for weeks at a stretch, and we couldn’t get it back, ”explains John Beauchamp, one of the managers. That’s why Beauchamp got rid of the Internet and instead hooked up his ATM and credit card machine to a mobile phone service to run his business.

Frustrated, East Feliciana Ward leaders take a closer look at their Internet services. Jody Moreaux, Warden of East Feliciana Parish, explains on a state map showing internet coverage: “Of course, the darker the blue, the better the coverage. So you see here, you have the Mississippi state line, you have the East Baton Rouge parish line, and you have this big dark colored void that is the East Feliciana parish.

Moreaux explains that there is only about 19% broadband Internet coverage in the parish. Some of their towns like Ethel have no coverage. “We are very underserved in this aspect, we are very rural. We see more development coming in a certain area of ​​our parish that borders the EBR line, the parish of East Baton Rouge, but overall we are very underserved in that capacity for the Internet, ”adds Moreaux.

At the start of the pandemic, it was a wake-up call that students did not have access to do their homework online, and employees could not work properly from home. “Internet is becoming more and more one of your bases for your infrastructure in your parish or in your municipality. You have gas, you have water, you have sewers, you have electricity; The internet is becoming one of those bases for sustainability, ”says Moreaux.

With a parish of only 21,000 people, it can be difficult to cut Internet costs, but they hope to get by. East Feliciana officials say they are currently developing their internet plans. So once the federal money arrives, they will be ready to provide better Internet coverage for the parish.

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