Story Archives: Vidalia to continue broadband initiativ
|Vidalia to continue broadband initiativ|
Vidalia will continue its $9 million broadband initiative despite news last week that the U.S. Commerce Department has revoked an $80-million broadband grant for the state.
That grant was designed to finance 900 miles of broadband in 21 rural parishes primarily in northeastern Louisiana.
Vidalia's initiative was to be funded from the Commerce grant. The program was set up to provide high speed internet service to businesses and residents.
Mayor Hyram Copeland was one of several officials to urge the governor's office to attempt to recover the grant at a meeting of the Public Service Commission in Baton Rouge last week.
"We're disappointed that we lost the grant," said Copeland, "but we're going to continue our program and continue to seek grants."
He said the entire region would have benefited from the opportunities offered through the statewide grant for both education and economic development.
Public Service Commissioner Louis Lambert said Gov. Bobby Jindal's decision not to seek recovery of the grant was unfortunate.
"It's a terrible shame that the governor seems to favor special interests over the people of Vidalia and the surrounding parishes who badly need broadband service," Campbell said.
"Access to high-speed Internet service is critical to the future of this area. I will continue to work with Mayor Copeland and others like him who are sincerely working to solve this problem."
The state's Louisiana Broadband Alliance project, headed by the state Board of Regents, was the only federal broadband grant of 230 to be revoked by the government last week.
Copeland said benefits of broadband are multi-fold. Since the city owns its own utilities "we can start the process to implement our own fiber optics. That's one example."
He described fiber optics as "something like an electric line that can carry more information quicker and faster. All businesses and industries need this service and citizens benefit as does education.
"Through fiber optics we can read consumption of water, gas and electricity at town hall for every home and business we serve," Copeland said. "There will be a meter box inside each home which will tell the consumer how much utilities they are using so they will have a concept of what their utility bill will be."
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