AgCenter preparing rural residents for broadband Internet

Johnny Morgan  |  6/20/2011 7:44:51 PM

News Release Distributed 06/20/11

High-speed Internet connections are on the way to rural areas of Louisiana, and the LSU AgCenter will soon begin preparing rural residents for its arrival.

LSU AgCenter family and consumer sciences agent Valerie Vincent explained the program at a broadband symposium held June 15 at the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station.

Connect My Louisiana is a broadband education and awareness initiative for residents in rural areas of Louisiana who are currently without broadband Internet service.

“This four-year project is the result of a grant through the Louisiana Division of Administration that will provide information that shows the benefits of adopting broadband technology in business, education, health care and other aspects of economic activity,” Vincent said.

The Connect My Louisiana course will be taught in 18 parishes where broadband Internet service is currently underused.

“The main activity will be providing consumers, business owners, local government representatives and public and private organizations with access to educational resources that promote greater broadband adoption,” Vincent said.

The LSU AgCenter has the infrastructure and the capabilities for presenting a broadband Internet awareness program, said LSU associate vice chancellor Dwight Landreneau.

“We have the technology, we have the connectivity in our local offices, and we have a reputation with our clientele that they’ll trust what we say about this new initiative,” Landreneau said.

The benefits of broadband Internet access for rural areas were outlined by David Moore, the Louisiana state broadband grant administrator in the Division of Administration who is in charge of the statewide broadband grant, which is funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

“We are sponsoring a series of these symposiums around the state to provide information about broadband to local government leaders so they can take it back to their constituents,” Moore said.

In the parishes without broadband Internet service, many people are economically challenged, many don’t have post-secondary educations, and many are minority households, Moore said. “These are people who normally don’t have access to these conveniences.”

Currently 43 percent of Louisiana households don’t have broadband Internet access, according to Louisiana deputy state librarian Diane Brown, one of the speakers at the symposium.

Research shows a number of barriers to broadband adoption exist in the state.

“About 48 percent of the rural populations don’t see the relevance – they don’t see a need for it –21 percent say it’s too expensive, and 18 percent simply lack the computer skills,” Moore said.

The 18 parishes included in the Connect My Louisiana initiative are Allen, Avoyelles, Caldwell, Catahoula, Concordia, East Carroll, East Feliciana, Franklin, Jefferson Davis, LaSalle, Madison, Morehouse, Pointe Coupee, Richland, St. Helena, Tensas, Washington and West Carroll.

For more information on the Connect My Louisiana broadband initiative, go to www.LSUAgCenter.com/ConnectMyLA.  

Johnny Morgan

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