Federal grants bringing world’s fastest internet to rural Acadiana

LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – The entire nation looked to St. Landry Parish this week as the Vice President went there to launch a federal broadband expansion, but other areas in Acadiana are also benefitting from high-speed internet grants.

Between two recent grants, LUS Fiber in Lafayette will be laying around one-point-three million feet of fiber optics cable across seven parishes, and they are just one of the smaller telecommunication companies in the race to provide quality internet service.

“If we don’t take advantage of this now, it’s never going to be like this again,” LUS Fiber Director Ryan Meche said of what he calls an “unprecedented” investment.

Billions of dollars are being invested by federal and state governments to connect every part of the country with the fastest possible connections which right now is fiber optics.

“We’re literally placing small strands of glass in the ground that light will be able to travel across”, Meche explained. “It’s future-proof. There’s no theoretical limit of how much bandwidth can actually go across it. Right now we’re offering up to 10 gigabits per second which is the fastest in the world.”

Thanks to the American Rescue Plan funding, the fastest speed in the world will extend from the heart of Acadiana to its edges.

“Through Duson, Church Point, Basile, (Mamou), Eunice, all the way up to Ville Platte which has the fifth-lowest speeds in the nation right now,” Meche stated.

LUS Fiber told News 10 it hopes to offer service to each home within 500 to 1,000 feet from that path, after it connects to Ville Platte, so everyone can have the same opportunities to attract big businesses and work from home.

“This is transformative. Some of these areas, they can’t even run credit card machines. Other regions their 911 center goes down. So, it’s not that it’s slow speeds, It’s not even available at times,” Meche said.

Like many industries through the pandemic, supply chain issues particularly with resin have slowed broadband expansion down. Some grants have up to 10-year windows to complete. Meche expects federal procedures could limit their start date up to a year, but once LUS Fiber starts expanding toward Ville Platte it will take a year.

“All these areas that have been asking for this for years and years, we had an opportunity to be able to step up with these grants and partnerships to help serve them,” Meche concluded.

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