Rural Electric Co-ops Could Soon Provide Internet Services Too
The two major news events that have occurred in Louisiana this year, namely the coronavirus pandemic and more than a few hurricanes, have revealed an opportunity. That opportunity would be in response to the need to get better and faster internet services to the smaller communities and rural areas of our state.
The Louisiana Public Service Commission has approved a plan that would bring high-speed internet services to a 14 parish area in north Louisiana. Those services would be brought to the rural areas via rural electric co-ops that serve that area.
In this particular case, the approval was made to allow Claiborne Electric in Homer and Northeast Louisiana Power in Winnsboro to use federal grant money combined with low-interest loans to bring high-speed internet from Webster Parish eastward to the Mississippi River.
The idea certainly seems to show merit, at least to me it does. Rural electric co-ops are truly the lifelines to a large portion of our state and especially Louisiana's farm families. The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent hurricanes have proven that high-speed internet is no longer a luxury, it's a necessity for school kids as well as adults who work and live in those areas.
In most cases, a lot of the infrastructure is already in place through the current physical plant of most rural electric co-ops, allowing these regulated businesses to offer this additional service to parts of the state that are currently being underserved seems like a good idea.
Under the plan approved by the Public Service Commission high-speed internet could be traveling down a similar path as rural electricity in under a year and a half.