Gov. Hutchinson announces the 'Arkansas Rural Connect Grant Program, $25 million for broadband deployment'

Must provide broadband speed of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps; Town must have at least 500 residents to qualify

By Gov. Asa Hutchinson's Office

LITTLE ROCK – Following his July 23 announcement establishing the Arkansas State Broadband Office, Governor Asa Hutchinson today announced “Arkansas Rural Connect,” a new $25 million grant program within the Arkansas State Broadband Office. Governor Hutchinson made the announcement while speaking to the Arkansas Sheriff’s Association in Rogers. The goal is to provide high-speed broadband to rural communities throughout Arkansas by 2022, as outlined in the State Broadband Plan released in May.

The Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) program will provide grants to qualifying communities of at least 500 people to deploy high-speed broadband to its residents. The high-speed broadband must have a rate of at least 25 megabits per second for download and 3 megabits per second for upload (25/3).

“The long-term success of our economy will be determined by the resources our entrepreneurs have access to, and high-speed broadband is at the top of that list,” said Governor Hutchinson. “The Arkansas Rural Connect program is an important tool that will allow the state to assist our local communities with the critical funding necessary to reach our goal of statewide connectivity. I will be asking legislative approval for the $25 million broadband plan.”

Of this $25 million plan, the Arkansas Legislative Council is able to approve $5.7 million this year, and the balance will need to be appropriated in next year’s fiscal session.

The ARC program builds on the work of the Arkansas state legislature, which, on February 26, 2019, opened up new possibilities for Arkansas towns by enacting Act 198 of 2019. Before Act 198, government entities were forbidden to provide broadband to the public by the Telecommunications Regulatory Reform Act of 2013. READ MORE.

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