In July of 2022, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and several state lawmakers visited Lake Providence in East Carroll Parish to announce the community had secured a $4 million grant to build a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network in one of the most poorly connected parts of the state.
But, as we first reported here, the monopoly cable provider Sparklight (formerly known as Cable One) filed a challenge to the grant claiming the cable company already serves 2,856 homes there. Following Sparklight’s multi-state campaign to prevent competition in areas where the company operates, the challenge brought the project to a grinding halt, sparking Delta Interfaith to leap into action. With the help of allied organizations, the coalition was able to secure a major victory for community broadband in rural Louisiana.
The Power of Community-based Coalitions
Delta Interfaith partnered with Connect Humanity, who has been working with other communities as well to advance broadband access with a creative blended financing approach. Delta Interfaith also worked closely with fiber network builder Jonathan Chambers of Conexon, who recently wrote in the company’s newsletter about why “it is advantageous for local communities to own these networks.”
While the full build-out of the new network won’t be complete until 2024, the first subscribers are expected to start getting affordable fiber service later this year. To mark the moment, Delta Interfaith, Connect Humanity, and Conexon released this short video that captures the moving story of how people-power prevailed and beat back the regional monopoly provider.