Foster Campell

Louisiana Public Service Commissioner

Include Monroe in Broadband Expansion Program

Posted on by Editor

MONROE – Expanding opportunity for low-income Americans through access to highspeed

Internet service is a great idea for America, and nowhere is it more needed than in

Monroe and the Louisiana Delta.

“I agree with President Obama that Internet access is a necessity in today’s world, not a

luxury,” said Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, D-Bossier City.

“I congratulate him for launching the ‘ConnectHome’ program, and I’m urging him to

expand it in Louisiana beyond Baton Rouge and New Orleans and add Monroe to the list of

cities to participate.”

ConnectHome is a new White House initiative of communities, private business, and the

federal government to expand high-speed broadband to more families across the country. The

pilot program is launching in 27 cities – including Baton Rouge and New Orleans — and the

Choctaw Indian nation of Oklahoma.

The White House says the pilot program will initially reach 275,000 low-income

households and 200,000 children with the support they need to access the Internet at home.

Nonprofit organizations, private businesses and Internet providers, including Monroebased

CenturyLink, will offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs,

and devices for residents in assisted housing units.

 

“I am writing the President, Mayor Jaime Mayo, our Congressional delegation and the

leadership of CenturyLink,” Campbell said. “Nowhere in America is the problem of poverty

and lack of opportunity more serious than the Louisiana Delta, and Monroe is the economic

heart of the Delta.”

The pilot program ConnectHome will be implemented in different ways at public housing

units in 27 cities. Some participants will receive free or low-cost Internet connections, for

example, $9.95 per month.

“When I travel through Northeast Louisiana one of the most common complaints I hear is

about the lack of Internet access, or the monthly cost,” Campbell said.

The President’s Council of Economic Advisers reported Wednesday that low-income

families with children have not benefitted from broadband expansion despite the recent increase

in Internet use in America. The council said two-thirds of the lowest-income households own

computers, but less than half have home Internet subscriptions.

Campbell said he will make the argument for Monroe based on income and poverty

statistics.

“The latest Census Bureau reports show Monroe with 36 percent of its population living

below the poverty level,” he said. “That is worse than Baton Rouge at 25 percent and New

Orleans at 27 percent.

“I’m going to tell the President: Put the help where it’s needed, in Northeast Louisiana.”

Putting Monroe with Baton Rouge and New Orleans in the ConnectHome program offers

Louisiana a second chance to address its Internet needs after failing to capitalize on the $80

million federal broadband grant awarded to the state in 2010.

“Louisiana was the only recipient of those broadband grants to have its grant rescinded,

after Governor Jindal refused to cooperate,” Campbell said. “I am for anything that can help

improve education in our state, and Internet access can do that.”

 

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l7July 2015

Hon. Barack Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

Washington, D.C. 20500

 

Dear President Obama:

 

I read with interest about your ConnectHome initiative to bring high-speed Internet service to low-income Americans throughout the country. As a member of the Louisiana Public Service Commission representing the northern third of the state, I have heard repeatedly from constituents about their lack of access to broadband and their desire to connect to the Internet. My district includes Monroe and surrounding parishes of Louisiana’s Mississippi Delta, and these are some of the most impoverished communities in the United States. I appreciate your inclusion of Baton Rouge and New Orleans in the ConnectHome pilot program, and I hope you will add Monroe to the list of cities whose residents will receive federal assistance in gaining broadband access.

 

Thank you for your dedication to this important cause. I look forward to hearing from you. I would be happy to provide additional information or answer any questions.

 

Sincerely,

FOSTER CAMPBELL

Public Service Commissioner

 

FC/br

C: Louisiana Congressional Delegation

Jaime Mayo, Mayor of Monroe

NE LA Legislative Delegation

Glen Post, CenturyLink

Conmiissioners, LA PSC