EAST CARROLL PARISH, La. (KTVE/KARD) — On Monday, May 1, 2023, officials announced that Conexon Connect, the internet service provider formed by rural fiber broadband leader Conexon, has been selected by a consortium of community organizations representing East Carroll Parish to deliver high-speed fiber internet access to unserved and underserved homes and businesses across the parish. According to officials, the project marks a new chapter for Conexon Connect, representing its first community broadband partnership project.

Connect will leverage a fiber-to-the-home network designed and constructed by Conexon to offer multi-gigabit-speed internet access to approximately 1,500 homes and businesses within the parish.

It’s exciting to see that affordable and accessible high speed internet is coming to East Carroll Parish and that construction is underway for many of the GUMBO projects we recently announced. This is true progress that will  be beneficial in any number of areas from education to healthcare to the economy and so much more. Working to eliminate the digital divide across our state with a sense of urgency is critical to the families and businesses of Louisiana, and I would like to thank the Louisiana State Office of Broadband, the Delta Interfaith group and Conexon for making today a reality.

Governor John Bel Edwards

The community organizations, including Delta Interfaith, with funding support from non-profit impact fund Connect Humanity, came together on behalf of the parish to work with Conexon Connect to close the digital divide in the area’s communities. Since April 2020, parish advocates have worked to bring the much-needed community advantages of high-speed internet, offering a team of digital navigators to provide education and assistance for residents, collecting signatures from those who are eagerly awaiting broadband, conducting speed tests at multiple homes and businesses to validate the need for reliable internet, helping residents to set up and use their devices and more. 

For years, East Carroll Parish has been known for a negative attribute: being one of the poorest parishes in the state and one of the poorest areas of the nation. In our small way, we’d like to change the story. We’d like to help make East Carroll the first parish in the state to have universal availability of a world class fiber-optic network. The network we will build will be capable of delivering multi-gigabit internet access to residents and businesses at affordable prices. We want to thank Delta Interfaith, in particular, for introducing us to the good people of East Carroll. You will see our construction crews in the coming months. I hope you make them feel welcome. We look forward to launching service later this year.

Conexon Partner Jonathan Chambers

KTVE has learned that the Connect network is expected to be completed within a 12-month timeframe, with initial construction expected to start in mid-2023 and initial customers anticipated to have service by the end of 2023. According to officials, the network will deliver symmetrical (same upload and download speeds) multi-gigabit internet speeds, among the fastest in the nation.

People in East Carroll are tired of paying hundreds of dollars for an unreliable internet connection — if they can get any connection at all. The pandemic was the tipping point. We are building our own internet network to bring new jobs to the community, improve schooling for students, and enable residents to access healthcare without driving 70 miles for an appointment. We are bringing hope and opportunity to our community — and we’re doing it on our terms.

Wanda Manning, Digital Navigator at Delta Interfaith

Connect Humanity has also awarded a grant to Delta Interfaith to sustain and grow the Digital Navigator program that has helped East Carroll residents overcome the barriers to getting online and using digital tools to improve their lives. The grant comes with a match from the community, which means that East Carroll Parish residents and businesses are investing directly in their digital future. 

In a world where internet access is the basis of economic opportunity and basic services, it’s inspiring to see people in East Carroll, who have been underserved and redlined for too long, take their digital futures into their own hands. Connect Humanity is proud to work alongside Delta Interfaith, Conexon Connect and other partners to ensure the project has the capital and support it needs to get fast, reliable, affordable internet access to all residents and businesses. This is a transformative moment for East Carroll.

Jane Coffin, Connect Humanity

Like many rural areas, East Carroll Parish has been disadvantaged for too long by the lack of vital high-speed internet options. We applaud community organizations such as Delta Interfaith who refuse to let their community continue to be left behind. The work these organizations and individuals have done to benefit their community is truly impressive and proof of the impact each of us can make. I’m proud to say that today’s announcement marks Conexon Connect’s shared commitment with those representing East Carroll Parish to improve the lives and prospects of area residents.

Randy Klindt, Conexon Founding Partner and Conexon Connect CEO