Priority Area: Broadband

Success Measure:
more homes with high-speed internet by 2030
GOAL: Increase households with high-speed internet access and utilization of digital and telehealth medicine programs.

REASON: Broadband is a “super social determinant of health” because connectivity is critical to accessing other support programs including digital health services/telehealth, virtual learning, benefit sign up and more. Louisiana (89% coverage) lags the nation (92% coverage) in the number of households with high-speed internet access with over 400,000 households still lacking access.

Healthy State’s focus on internet access aims to increase the percentage of households with a broadband internet subscription and a computer, smartphone, or tablet. High-speed internet is an important resource for work, education, and efficient communication. Moreover, having high-speed internet is vital for receiving healthcare via telehealth.

An estimated 19 million Americans lack access to reliable broadband internet. Over half of U.S. counties (57%)experience speeds below the federally defined broadband standard (25 Mbps down/3 Mbps up), but in rural counties this percentage jumps to 65%. Low-income neighborhoods in urban areas have been systematically excluded from broadband service in “digital redlining.” Barriers to high-speed internet access include cost and deficient infrastructure.

Among older populations, broadband access can foster social connectedness, reducing the burden of social isolation, strengthening community support, and decreasing loneliness (AHR).
WIN! Our collaboration with Gov. John Bel Edwards and other partners secured $1.35 billion in federal funding to expand broadband access and eliminate the digital divide connecting communities to devices and services vital for social resources and telemedicine. READ MORE
LA Rate
US Rate
Percentage of households that have a broadband internet subscription and a computer, smartphone or tablet (AHR).

Success Measures

Percentage of households with broadband internet access

2020 Baseline
2021 Actual
2022 Actual
2030 Target

What we should know and do to drive change:

Issue specific to Broadband
High-speed internet, or broadband internet, has changed significantly over the last 10 years. Prior to 2015, the FCC standard for high-speed internet was a minimum of 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload. In 2015, the standard for the definition of broadband was defined as 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload. Today, the introduction of 5G and Fiber have made the minimal standard of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds increasingly less desirable. By 2030, there is a strong possibility that the standard today will be relatively obsolete.

From a public health perspective, acknowledging the internet’s role in health, job, and education access is critical to improving health outcomes. For the purposes of moving state health rankings, special care and consideration needs to be placed on the treatment of both the issue of access to high-speed internet and the issue of the measure itself. Thanks to the evolution of internet infrastructure, there are now multiple ways to access high-speed internet. To highlight the distinctions and potential interventions, high-speed internet access is broken into several categories of form: internet access through a cell phone, 25/3 broadband access, and fiber. High-speed internet purchases changes by modality of access. 
Who is affected most?
The likelihood of having internet access increases with higher income, higher educational attainment, and younger age:
  • Urban communities over rural communities
  • White and other groups more than Black and Hispanic groups
The most significant decreases in broadband access are evident across the following groups:
  • Female more than male
  • Less than college education
  • Over 65 years of age
  • Who did not attend college
  • Rural more than urban since 2014
  • Those who make less than $20k/year
Internet access through a cellphone has significantly increased across all groups since 2008. The most significant differences in increases through cell:
  • Urban communities over the rural communities
  • Those who are 18-49 over those who are over 50 years of age
  • Hispanic and Black groups over other race/ethnic categories
Broadband rates in my community
Great news! 88.2%of Louisiana is covered (AHR).
Current state of the policy?
ConnectLA, the Office of Broadband Development and Connectivity created by Gov. Edwards in 2020, is on a mission to eliminate the digital divide in Louisiana. Veneeth Iyengar, Executive Director for ConnectLA and member of the Healthy State Advisory Board, is working to align funding opportunities with key partners to expand broadband internet access, build out broadband infrastructure, offer affordable internet services, and reduce the digital illiteracy rate in Louisiana.

Broadband access is a 2022 key strategic initiative for the Healthy State Advisory Board, with a goal to increase the number of homes with high-speed internet access by >82,000 on a yearly basis. While broadband access may not seem like an important focus area for Healthy State, broadband connectivity allows community members and businesses access basic amenities needed in today’s world. With support from key partners and critical funding, ConnectLA’s plan aims to exceed the Healthy State goal by 2029.

Earlier this year, Healthy State Advisory Board member, Higher Education Commissioner, Kim Hunter Reed, joined Gov. Edwards to announce a major federal investment in broadband expansion statewide and new digital literacy pilot programs. An estimated 462,000 Louisiana community members do not have basic digital literacy skills, impacting their access to critical healthcare, educational, and environmental benefits.

The Louisiana Board of Regents, a member organization of the Healthy State Advisory Board, is joining forces with ConnectLA, the Louisiana Department of Education, and the State Library of Louisiana to pilot digital literacy programs in the areas of most need.

Comparable to the Healthy State initiative, the audacious goal to eliminate the digital divide in Louisiana will not be possible without leaders and organizations from diverse industries coming together aligned to a single mission.

This expansive investment of resources directly impacting countless lives across our state actualizes the Healthy State strategy to eliminate the digital divide by equipping tens of thousands of Louisiana homes with high-speed internet, improving quality of life for all.

Source: ConnectLA.
Download our Healthy State Fact Sheet on Broadband Internet Access and Public Health