Louisiana ranks third in the nation for EBB adoption, according to BroadbandNow research. More than 215,000 eligible households are receiving this benefit, representing hundreds of thousands of Louisianians with better, more affordable access to broadband.
Launched in February 2021 by the Federal Communications Commission, EBB provides a $50 monthly discount for broadband services to low-income households. Lack of affordability is one of the main pillars keeping Louisianians from reliable broadband, but the affordability gap will continue to narrow because of the EBB program and programs like it.
As ConnectLA traveled throughout the state, the organization made it a point to inform local stakeholders about programs like EBB to help Louisianians attain and afford the broadband they need.
“The affordability aspect is extremely important to ConnectLA, which is why we pushed EBB so much to municipalities as well as individuals,” said Veneeth Iyengar, Executive Director of ConnectLA . “We had great support and alignment among the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Board of Regents, municipalities, superintendents, local broadband teams, stakeholders, and so many more, which was a main component to Louisiana’s success in EBB enrollment. We want to thank everyone who joined us in this effort as it is so important for our state.”
Congress recently passed the Affordable Connectivity Program that will replace the Emergency Broadband Benefit program in 2022. However, those enrolled in EBB as of Dec. 31, 2021, have a 60-day transition period when they can keep their monthly discount while enrolling in the new program.
EBB enrollment nationwide reached 7.1 million households in November of 2021. This is up from 6.1 million in October.
For more information about the EBB program, visit the program page here.
Additionally, two proposals have been submitted to ConnectLA’s Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities program by Altice and AT&T.
The total funding request for all the applications throughout the state is $440 million, with $711 million in total project costs and an average of 40% of total project costs in matching funds. With applications coming from 58 parishes, this figure represents requests for broadband projects in every corner of the state. In addition, the proposed applications seek to provide high speed internet to 215,000 households and 14,000 businesses.
ConnectLA is using third-party reviewers to evaluate each application with objective scoring metrics. These 23 metrics will evaluate a wide range of subjects, including experience, technical ability, financial wherewithal, provider matching funds, number of households/businesses served, scalability and small business entrepreneurship. All applications are public and can be accessed at gumbo.la.gov Nearly $90 million will be granted in the first round of GUMBO funding.
Awards will be announced in March with construction starting as soon as May.
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