KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 1, 2023 – 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.
The East Carroll 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,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “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."
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. Parish advocates have worked tirelessly since April 2020 to bring about the much-needed community advantages of high-speed internet, offering a team of digital navigators to provide education and assistance for residents, conducting speed tests at multiple homes and businesses to validate the need for reliable internet, collecting signatures from those who are eagerly awaiting broadband, 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,” Conexon Partner Jonathan Chambers said. “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.”
The Connect network is expected to be completed within a 12-month timeframe, with initial construction expected to start mid-2023 and initial customers anticipated to have service by 4Q 2023. The network will deliver symmetrical (same upload and download speeds) multi-gigabit internet speeds, among the fastest in the nation. Fiber – considered the gold standard of communications transmission – sends and receives data at ultra-high speeds, is capable of carrying an extremely high amount of data and connects multiple devices without delays or interruptions.
“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,” said Wanda Manning, Digital Navigator at Delta Interfaith. “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.”
In addition to providing funding support for the network, Connect Humanity has 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. This grant comes with a match from the community, meaning that local 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’s Jane Coffin said. “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.”
Conexon and Conexon Connect work with electric cooperatives and community entities committed to serving residents with fiber broadband. With its clients, the company has designed more than 200,000 miles of fiber, builds more than 50,000 miles of fiber annually and has connected more than 500,000 rural Americans to fiber to the home.
“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,” Conexon Founding Partner and Conexon Connect CEO, Randy Klindt said. “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.”
About Delta Interfaith
Delta Interfaith is a broad-based coalition of congregations and community-based organizations in the Louisiana Delta, with the capacity to address community problems large and small. The coalition is non-partisan and deliberate about crossing the lines of race, religion, neighborhood, and political affiliation as it seeks solutions to issues affecting families and communities and works to build relationships across the community based on trust and a willingness to listen to each other.
About Connect Humanity
Connect Humanity is a non-profit impact fund advancing digital equity by investing in community connectivity providers. It helps underserved communities identify the right solutions to meet their connectivity needs and provides funding and technical assistance so they can build the internet infrastructure, tools, and skills they need to participate fully in a digital society.
About Conexon Connect
Conexon Connect is the internet service provider (ISP) arm of rural fiber broadband design and construction management leader Conexon. The subsidiary was formed to operate and manage cooperative and investor fiber-to-the-home networks. Connect leverages Conexon’s decades of co-op operations, fiber-optic design and construction, telecommunications, federal and state lobbying and customer experience management expertise to successfully launch and operate projects.