Comcast announces expansion on west bank

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 17, 2012



EDGARD – After years of having virtually no access to broadband Internet service, residents of the west bank of St. John the Baptist Parish now have options as cable television and Internet provider Comcast announced its expansion of services in that area.

Officials with Comcast made a presentation for the St. John Parish Council during Tuesday’s meeting in Edgard to explain the services that will be provided to west bank residents. Comcast spokeswoman Patricia Collins said the company will be offering digital TV, broadband Internet and eventually phone service to west bank residents. The company already provides those services on the east bank in LaPlace.

Collins told the council that work will begin immediately on the infrastructure needed to provide the services and said that some residents could be in line for Internet access by the end of April. She said digital telephone, high-definition TV and on-demand movies and television will be available by Aug. 1.

“Our goal was to launch the Internet as soon as possible because of its importance to residents and their daily lives,” Collins said. “We understand how long the residents have gone without those services.”

Residents of the west bank have been clamoring for broadband Internet access for several years. Services are currently offered by AT&T in neighborhoods closest to the parish courthouse in Edgard and also near the Veterans Memorial Bridge between Gramercy and Wallace. The major hurdle keeping companies from providing services to the area, which has a population of 3,000, was crossing the river.

Collins said Comcast piggy-backed with Reserve-based RTC to string fiber optic cables across the bridge to the west bank last year allowing the company to link its services in LaPlace to infrastructure already in place in the Houma area. Collins said Comcast would combine the two coverage areas to bring services to the west bank of St. John.

Officials with RTC said in January that the company was starting expansions to the west bank as part of additional expansion in St. James Parish. RTC recently assumed control of Charter Communications in unincorporated areas of St. James.

RTC President Bill Ironside said the company, which will also offer high speed Internet, cable television and eventually phone service to the west bank, plans to begin connecting customers this month with everyone wired up by the end of May or beginning of June. He said all of St. John and St. James parishes should be connected by August.

Collins said Comcast will offer four levels of Internet network speed, from 1.5 megabits per second to 16 mbps. She said television offerings will include digital picture and sound, as well as 50 high definition channels. She said phone service will be voice over Internet protocol.

During the presentation, Councilwoman Cheryl Millet asked if the new services would allow for council meetings held on the west bank to be shown live on the parish’s government access channel instead of on a one-day delay. Collins said that it will allow for that.