In 2007, only just over half Louisiana homes had internet service with 11% still on dial-up. The state ranked 14th in 2009 for performance with an average download speed of 6.3 mbps, up from 4.6 mbps the previous year.
Broadband internet services are widely available throughout Louisiana, with various internet providers offering either a DSL or fiber optic cable service. However, rural areas are less well served, with the US Census Bureau reporting over 500,000 housing units and a population of more than 1.2 million in rural areas in 2007, over one quarter of the state's population. Many of these areas are underserved, with often at most one ISP being available. Wireless internet access shows service clustered around New Orleans and other main areas of population, but few wifi hotspots in the north of the state in particular.
November 2009 saw the state's Office of Information Technology awarded $1.7 million by the NTIA, with $1.2 million for broadband mapping and the rest for planning. State funds of $425,000 bring the total to over $2.1 million. Michael Baker Jnr Inc has been appointed to provide consultancy services for the mapping phase. However, the arrangement has not received universal approval, with Louisiana-based internet provider CenturyLink citing the open access provisions of the grant as the reason why it did not seek funding. Companies building expensive high speed networks are naturally wary of competitors then being able to use them.
A controversial move by the Louisiana House of Representatives was its vote to impose a 15 cent monthly fee on internet access. This is to fund investigation of internet crimes but its critics have called it a tax that will restrict the uptake of broadband service.
Divided into an alluvial lowland region along the Gulf of Mexico and uplands further north, Louisiana has a sub-tropical climate with long, hot summers and short, mild winters. It is vulnerable to major hurricane strikes, the most well known being Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in 2005.
Louisiana is the largest producer of crawfish in the world and the economy is a mixture of agriculture, industry, tourism and a thriving film industry. New Orleans is the largest city followed by Baton Rouge, the state capital, Shreveport and Lafayette. The Port of South Louisiana is the world's largest bulk cargo port and the largest volume shipping port in the western hemisphere.
Cities in Louisiana likely to have, or soon to receive, fiber optic cable internet services include New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Shreveport, Metairie and Lafayette. Locations in LA with highest population counts will be targeted first by providers, though relatively high speeds can be achieved with dial-up or DSL through companies such as Netzero and Charter Communications Cable.