Dial Dalfred: Families anxious for reliable broadband service in St. Landry Parish

Dial Dalfred

ST. LANDRY PARISH, La (KLFY) – In rural St. Landry parish, a mother of four is looking for help as they battle with intolerable internet; she wants to know what’s being done about getting reliable internet service to people past the city limits.

Out in St. Landry Parish, on a quiet road home to only a few houses, Vanessa Lewis, her four children, and a couple cats rely heavily on the internet. But, being way out on the countryside— they get a great view, but spotty service.

Lewis says, “If it rains, if it’s windy then I’ll get all these notices: outage. It’s very hard especially during this year of the pandemic.”

With four children ranging from elementary to high school, they need internet for assignments during the school year, and for entertainment during the summer.

“If your internet goes down you can’t print, you can’t email, you can’t do anything.”

Lewis told us since 1999 she’s been fighting to get service. More than two decades later she finds herself in the same position; even after congress approved 7 billion dollars in the COVID relief bill for broadband access; including 300 million for rural broadband deployment.

“I’ve been trying to get Wi-Fi, or that time just basic cable or Internet service and still now it’s 2021, no basic infrastructure back here.”

St. Landry Parish president, Jessie Bellard says he’s aware of the problem.

“In the rural areas of our parish we’re just short. Even with the ones that have some type of broadband, we’re the fifth slowest out of our seven parish region”, Bellard said.

During the legislative session, President Bellard made the trip to Baton Rouge to advocate for rural communities, and tell legislators why broadband is needed.

“This year of all years, kids were sent home to do schoolwork and we did not have the broadband for them. We have to take care of our kids. If we can’t give our kids the education that they need then we’ve got a problem.

Bellard says he’s been in contact with one of the parishes main providers in Charter Communications, and they’ll be putting the federal money they got in the COVID relief package to good use in the very near future.

“We’re going to get to 2400 more homes in the next two or three months. Will be reaching out to at least 2400 new homes they didn’t have any at all. Our numbers are going to be better but it’s not going to fix it.”
President Bellard says he would also like to have more providers in the area. More options means more competition. More competition means better rates for his constituents.

If there’s an ongoing issue in your neighborhood or community or there’s a story you’d like me to investigate, send me an email at DialDalfred@klfy.com.

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