WASHINGTON – United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu, D-La., Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today announced that Louisiana will receive more than $36 million in Department of Agriculture Recovery Act funding to expand broadband infrastructure in underserved and unserved areas of Louisiana.  As a result of Senator Landrieu’s efforts, approximately $130 million has been awarded to advance broadband technology in Louisiana’s most rural regions.

“By expanding our broadband infrastructure, we are providing entrepreneurs the the tools to develop their Main Street businesses throughout the global network,” said Senator Landrieu.  “We are opening the door to business innovation, instilling a foundation for economic development, and creating jobs in our rural communities.  More than 35,000 Louisiana residents, more than 3,000 businesses, and nearly 200 community institutions across the state will be able to access the internet with the infrastructure created from this funding.” 

The Department of Agriculture awarded $36.2 million that will allow Pride Network, Inc. to construct a fiber-to-the-premise infrastructure (FTTP), with a wireless-extension overlay.  The project will bring advanced broadband service to rural communities in St. Helena, Washington and Tangipahoa Parishes.  The network will offer broadband service speeds between 20 and 100 Mbps.  Pride Network estimates the project will create 1,300 jobs. 

“We are excited to hear that Senator Landrieu was able to help Pride Network, Inc. receive this grant to bring more and better broadband services to Washington Parish,” said Washington Parish President Richard Thomas.  Deploying fiber to the premises will mean many things to Washington Parish residents and businesses.  Teachers will have the access they need to submit their reports from home rather than staying at school late into the evening.  Elementary and high school students will be able to perform their research projects online without waiting in line at the local libraries.  College students and professionals will be able to take online courses to further their education.  Businesses will have access to services that bring them closer to their customer base as well as their suppliers.   Every one of the 50,000 residents in Washington Parish will benefit from this project.”

 “Pride Network Inc is extremely excited to bring our revolutionary broadband services to the wonderful communities in St. Helena, Washington and Tangipahoa Parishes,” said Aaron Peters, Vice President of RUS Projects.  “Our company prides itself on the relationships it builds with local governments, small businesses, schools and the communities as a whole and feels this is the foundation for a lasting partnership." 

In addition, the Department of Agriculture Recovery Act awarded approximately $724,000 with a matching private contribution of $241,000.  The public-private partnership will allow the West Carroll Parish Infrastructure project to provide broadband services to underserved and unserved areas in northeastern Louisiana.  The technology will combine microwave and fiber connectivity and will tie into the middle-mile LA Broadband Alliance-Infrastructure project. 

Senator Landrieu has been a long-time advocate for the expansion of broadband technology and co-sponsored the Broadband Data Improvement Act that became law in October 2008. This law encourages the deployment of high-speed Internet access to areas that need it most, notably rural communities.

To view more information on Senator Landrieu’s broadband expansion efforts, please click here.