Rural broadband connectivity has been an issue in Arkansas. As digital communications become more important to daily life, Arkansans are looking for options to connect to fast, reliable internet. The U.S.D.A. and AT & T had major announcements this week related to rural broadband service.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it will provide a $75 million dollar loan to Arkansas Electric Co-op Corporations through the Electric Infrastructure Loan Guarantee Program. The money will be used to build and improve electric transmission and distribution lines across the state. The loan also includes funding for smart grid technology, which uses communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage. Finally, the funds will be instrumental to aiding electric companies in improving their broadband infrastructure.
Meanwhile, AT & T has announced that it will extend high-speed internet service to more than 41,000 rural homes and businesses in Arkansas. In coordination with the FCC’s Connect America Fund, AT & T announced this week that it has set that goal of 41,000 in 45 of Arkansas’s 75 counties, including Polk County. AT & T says it intends to complete about 10,000 of those hook-ups by the end of the year.