BENTON, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – AT&T is expanding its fiber network connection to serve more residential and small business locations across the Benton area.

This week, AT&T announced the availability of AT&T Fiber to more than 200 customer locations in parts of Benton.

Mayor Shelly Horton said it had been the number one request from the community.

“What used to be a luxury now has become a necessity like water, electricity and sewerage,” Shelly said.

Parish leaders said the pandemic shined the light on how much a problem it is to have slow or no internet.

“Fiber is beneficial to every person in America. Not just Benton. it’s probably my number one complaint and when are we getting fiber?” Phillip Rodgers, District 3 Police Jury.

AT&T says they are committed to connecting more Americans to reliable, high-speed broadband internet in several ways, including expanding and upgrading our network and participating in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP provides eligible households with a benefit of up to $30 a month (up to $75 a month on qualifying Tribal lands) to reduce the cost of broadband service.

The town of Benton and Bossier Parish applied to the federal government for fiber optic assistance and formed a partnership with AT&T.

“What Covid showed us is that people need to connect at a high rate of speed. It’s not just the entertainment portion who have telehealth, telelearning, you have remote work,” said Levar Greenhouse, AT&T External Director.

The service should be complete in the next two years.