Gabe Firment discusses high speed internet funding allocated to rural Natchitoches Parish

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The Federal Communications Commission(FCC) recently announced that Natchitoches Parish was allocated $13,456,731 in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction to provide high speed internet to 4,733 unserved/underserved locations. Eligible locations include areas around the rural communities of Goldonna, Lakeview, Fairview Alpha, Clarence and Readhimer. The winning bidders in Natchitoches Parish were Segnem Egere Consortium, Space Exploration Technologies Corporation and AMG Technology Investment Group. The winning bidders have six years to complete the build out, but there are significant incentives to complete the work faster.

The FCC website contains an interactive map that allows addresses to be entered to determine if that location is eligible for funding and who the winning bidder for that particular census tract was. The interactive map can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps/rdof-phase-i-dec-2020/. In Louisiana, the RDOF auction allocated $342,207,315.20 in support to expand broadband to 175,692 unserved homes and businesses over the next 10 years. Nearly all locations in Louisiana that were eligible for the auction will be receiving access to broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with an overwhelming majority (82%) getting gigabit-speed broadband.

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The auction unleashed robust competition that resulted in more locations being awarded at less cost to Americans who pay into the FCC’s Universal Service Fund.

“This historic auction is great news for the residents of so many rural Louisiana communities, who will get access to high-quality broadband service in areas that for too long have been on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We structured this innovative and groundbreaking auction to prioritize bids for high-speed, low-latency services to deliver the best results for rural Americans, and the results show that this strategy worked. This auction was the Commission’s single largest step ever taken toward delivering digital opportunity to every American and is another key success in our ongoing commitment to universal service.”

“Although this announcement does not immediately solve our problems with the lack of affordable and reliable high speed internet, it is a big win for the people of Natchitoches Parish and rural communities across Louisiana. I will continue working with elected officials, internet service providers, and all interested stakeholders until every citizen has access to high speed internet service. Thank you and God Bless! “ Firment said.