Clarification provided regarding Jackson Parish Broadband Connection Project

The message given to the large crowd that packed the Charles H Garett Community Center this past Wednesday was that eventually, everyone in Jackson Parish will have access to broadband internet capability and for a good portion, fiber optic cable network service will be in place in a matter of months. 

This and more information were disseminated by ConnectLA and Altice USA /Optimum officials who are collaborating to provide broadband internet coverage for Jackson Parish through a $2,029,929.87 Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunity (GUMBO) grant. The designation for Jackson Parish is part of a multiple-round, statewide initiative that totals $300,189,224.13. Expectations are that in the first round of funding fiber optic network services will be provided to an estimated 2,100 residents that have no internet service and roughly 6,000 who have none to marginal service by the end of 2023. 

“We are very excited that by the end of the year, GUMBO will make a huge impact for several thousand residents that have none to marginal internet capability,” said Vyneeth Iyengar, Executive Director for ConnectLA. “What is more, is that as the funding continues to be provided everyone in the parish will be part of the network.”

To learn more about GUMBO click here.

Jim Campbell, Vice President of Government Affairs for Altice USA, then took the floor to give an idea of what the initial stages of work would entail and provided a project timeline over the next 12 months.  

“We are currently going all over the parish to best determine how transmission should be handled and are in the process of getting the required permits needed,” said Campbell. “When that is complete we will begin the procurement stage along with ISP make-ready and construction work, leading up to the activation of the network and home readiness stage.”

A graphic timeline chart was then introduced showing how long each developmental stage should last during the next 12 months.

STAGE Jan Feb March April May June July Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec
WALKABOUT X X X
DESIGN X X X
PERMITTING X X X
PROCUREMENT X X
ISP MAKE READY X
BACKHAUL CONSTRUCTION X X X X X X
LAST MINUTE CONSTRUCTION X X X
ACTIVATION X X
HOME READINESS X

Michael Shaffer, Vice President of Local Market Engagement then informed the audience about the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which is an FCC benefit program that helps ensure that households can afford broadband services. The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

Those eligible for ACP include:

Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income internet program;
Participates in one of these assistance programs: (1)Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch Program or School Breakfast Program, (2) SNAP (3) Medicaid (4) Federal Housing Assistance, including Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program (Section 8 Vouchers), Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA)/Section 202/ Section 811, Public Housing (5) Supplemental Security Income (SSI), (6) WIC (7) Veterans Pension or Survivor Benefits (8) Lifeline

To learn more about ACP click here. 

This was followed by Shaffer introducing a map showing what parts of the parish would be covered through the GUMBO program and also showing what areas are covered through an FCC program that is not expected to take effect for several years yet.

To view the interactive map which can be enhanced to view your exact location click here.

Blue areas are those covered by GUMBO while gray areas are in the FCC program area.

Shaffer also encouraged residents to contact his office if they are not in the original plans of coverage to allow his group the opportunity to see if any could be included.

“I am your point of contact for Jackson Parish. If you see that your residence falls outside the areas that we currently have designated, I invite you to contact my office so that we can examine the possibility of having you included,” said Shaffer.

Contact can be made either by calling: (903)407-0925 or by sending an email to: michael.shaffer@alticeusa.com

The session finalized with a description of what it will cost to be connected and what levels of service will be offered as shown below.

Broadband Cost Projections

Service Level Speed Cost
Tier 1 100 Mpbs $29.99
Tier 2 300 Mpbs $39.99
Tier 3 500 Mpbs $59.99
Tier 4 1 Gbps $79.99

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