Washington — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized $22.6 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband to 6,582 unserved rural Arkansas homes and businesses in six counties, representing the second wave of support from last year’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction. Providers will begin receiving funding this month. Rural broadband access connects Arkansans and is a critical step for economic development.
“Many of our rural communities have been forced to make compromises in terms of education and commerce due to their bandwidth capabilities. These tradeoffs stifle the competitiveness and health of our rural communities compared with urban areas. Rural broadband is necessary to ensure the advancement of Arkansas’ First District and bridge the gap between rural and urban areas, and I appreciate the FCC for making these expansions a priority,” said Crawford.
“I’ve long advocated for increased investment in rural Arkansas to support the expansion of broadband. These funds will help deploy high-speed, reliable broadband to improve quality of life and economic opportunity. As a co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, I will continue to promote and advance policies that strengthen internet service in rural areas of Arkansas and all across America,” said Boozman.
“Whether they’re starting a business, earning a degree, or accessing medical care, it’s important for all Arkansans to have modern broadband access. I’m pleased that the Federal Communications Commission is closing the digital divide by making quality internet connection possible for Arkansans, no matter where they live,” said Cotton.
“I’m pleased to announce that the second round of funding starts now for buildout of high-speed Internet service to 6,582 rural Arkansas homes and businesses, which will bring them to the right side of the digital divide and give them access to the 21st-century opportunities that broadband offers,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Providers will be deploying gigabit-speed connections to all the locations for which funding is being authorized today, making cutting-edge broadband available to these rural consumers.”
Nationwide, the auction last fall allocated $1.488 billion in support to expand broadband to more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses over the next 10 years. To date, the first two rounds of authorizations are providing $278.4 million nationwide over the next decade to expand service to 97,998 new locations.
In Arkansas, today’s authorization brings the total authorized in May and June to $40.8 million, which will expand broadband service to over 11,934 homes and businesses. Over the coming months, the FCC will be authorizing additional funding as it approves the final applications of the winning bidders from the auction.