Funds dedicated to bring high-speed internet to rural areas of Vernon, Beauregard

Pamela Sleezer

Lawmakers are laying the groundwork to bring high-speed internet to rural communities across the state, including Beauregard and Vernon parishes.

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier, announced this week that the federal government will invest more than $342 million over the next 10 years to expand broadband internet access.

According to Johnson, the funds will be distributed through the Federal Communication Commission’s newly-established Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, and is projected to bring internet access to nearly 176,000 residents.

“Addressing the digital divide has long been one of our country’s most pressing and difficult challenges, and it is critical that we get our rural communities covered. The pandemic has shown us that now, more than ever, Louisianians must have access to the e-commerce marketplace, telehealth visits, online education opportunities, and all of the other benefits that come with increased connectivity. This latest federal investment for expanded broadband in our rural areas is a strong step in the right direction,” Johnson stated in a public release announcing the investment.

Based upon an FCC breakdown of parishes to receive investments across the state, Beauregard Parish could see an investment of over $15 million that would provide internet access to an estimated 6,266 locations over the next decade.

Vernon Parish would receive just over $14 million invested that would provide internet access to 4,306 locations.