AR Briefly

Federal funds will help connect 5,500 homes and businesses to broadband

By: - August 30, 2022 5:43 pm

(Getty Images)

Arkansas has received $47.5 million to connect 5,500 homes and businesses in rural areas to high-speed internet through the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund.

U.S. Department of Treasury officials on Tuesday announced the approval of plans from Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska and North Dakota.

The rescue plan’s capital projects fund is providing $10 billion for critical projects that enable work, education and health monitoring in response to the public health emergency, according to a press release.

Each state’s plan requires service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides a discount of up to $30 a month, or up to $75 per eligible household on tribal lands.

An estimated 48 million families — nearly 40% of households — are eligible for the program, according to the FCC. The Arkansas Broadband Master Plan released in April found the state has 110,000 underserved households. The report estimates it will cost about $500 million to cover these families.

“I appreciate the Treasury Department’s approval of this funding as we continue our work toward expanding broadband access in Arkansas,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in a statement. “Ensuring access to high-speed internet presents a challenge in rural states, and this funding will provide us an opportunity to build on the work we’ve already done through the Arkansas Rural Connect Program.”

Hutchinson created the Arkansas Rural Connect grant program and the Arkansas State Broadband Office in 2019. The program is designed to expand broadband access in the state’s rural areas, and more than $386 million in grants have been awarded since the program’s inception.

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Antoinette Grajeda
Antoinette Grajeda

Antoinette Grajeda is a multimedia journalist who has reported since 2007 on a wide range of topics, including politics, health, education, immigration and the arts for NPR affiliates, print publications and digital platforms. A University of Arkansas alumna, she earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a master’s degree in documentary film.