East Carroll celebrates as fiber build gets underway

First residents to have access to lightning-fast broadband later this year

East Carroll celebrates as fiber build gets underway

In East Carroll Parish, Louisiana, residents gathered at a community assembly this week to celebrate the beginning of a fiber network build they have fought for tirelessly.

Having been forced to choose between no service and slow, unaffordable service for years, families and businesses will soon be able to connect to lightning speeds via a fiber network built by rural fiber broadband provider Conexon Connect.

Speaking ahead of the event, Digital Navigator Wanda Manning said: “People in East Carroll are tired of paying hundreds of dollars for an unreliable internet connection — if they can get any connection at all. 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, Delta Interfaith activist, speaking at a podium
Wanda Manning, East Carroll Parish Digital Navigator, speaks outside Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge

Readers that have followed East Carroll’s story know that the community has been on the verge of breaking ground on the network before, only to be forced to delay — most recently because incumbent provider Cable One Sparklight challenged a state GUMBO grant, in an effort to preserve its monopoly position.

But thanks to the work of local advocates organizing through Delta Interfaith, the project has overcome setbacks and attacks from entrenched interests and is on course to deliver the reliable, affordable internet access that East Carroll families need to live their lives.

“We are bringing hope and opportunity to our community — and we’re doing it on our terms.”

Wanda Manning, Digital Navigator

Community organizers and residents were joined Tuesday by Conexon partner Jonathan Chambers who spoke about the build: “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. We look forward to launching service later this year.”

Jonathan Chambers, Conexon partner, speaks at Parish Assembly
Jonathan Chambers, Conexon partner, addresses Parish Assembly

Conexon plans to complete the network build within 12-months, with initial construction expected to start mid-2023 and the first customers anticipated to have service by the end of this year.

As a long term supporter of Delta Interfaith’s work to bring fiber to East Carroll, we’re delighted to see work get underway, and inspired by the community action that made it happen.

Building on a previous grant we awarded to support broadband planning work, we have committed a further $50K to sustain and grow Delta Interfaith’s Digital Navigator program, helping residents overcome the barriers to getting online and using digital tools to improve their lives. This grant comes with a match from the community, meaning that local residents and businesses are investing directly in their digital future.

Attendees at East Carroll Parish Assembly meeting
Residents gather at East Carroll Parish assembly supper

We’ll have more news to share about the project later this year, so stay tuned.

If you want to support Delta Interfaith’s work, you can make a donation.

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