Conexon Connect has started constructing a network in rural East Carroll Parish, Louisiana. Although Conexon is best known for working with rural electric membership co-ops (REMCs) on broadband deployments, there is no REMC involved in the East Carroll Parish project.
Time magazine once called East Carroll Parish the poorest place in America, according to a blog post from Co-ops Connect FYI written by Conexon partner Jonathan Chambers.
“We build networks all over the country,” said Chambers. “East Carroll is special.”
Conexon was unable to use its usual approach on the build because the local REMC only serves a few hundred locations in the parish.
The solution is evolving as construction begins. Conexon, Delta Interfaith and other community groups are in the process of creating an entity that can take ownership of the network. Once the entity is established, Conexon will donate $4 million to it from Louisiana’s Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO) program.
Louisiana’s GUMBO program received a $176 million grant from the Capital Projects Fund (CPF). The CPF is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Conexon will lease the network from the parish and provide it with revenue share payments. According to Chambers, “This revenue share will give the organization owned by East Carroll Parish sufficient resources to operate its organization.”
The arrangements are similar to those that Conexon establishes with REMCs. The company is interested in pursuing other deals of a similar nature, Chambers said in the blog post.