$30M Fiber Internet Project Planned for Pope County | Arkansas Business News

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Pope County is poised to benefit from a $30.2 million investment in fiber internet to the home, funded in part by federal pandemic aid dollars through the state-run Arkansas Rural Connect grant program.

Ritter Communications has been awarded two ARC grants totaling $12.7 million to bring fiber broadband service to the county, County Judge Ben Cross announced Friday. Ritter is seeking two other grants to fund its $24 million deployment project there, and Cross said in a news release that he is optimistic about those being awarded by this summer.

In addition, Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative and Cross have signed a collaborative agreement seeking $2.2 million in grant funding for the co-op’s nearly $6.2 million Wave Rural Connect program to provide fiber to the home for its customers.

Cross attributed the recent progress to a year of intensive study that proves the county is underserved and therefore eligible for grant funding. The study involved surveying residents throughout unincorporated areas of the county about their household’s current internet service, or lack thereof. Cross said Friday that residents should continue to complete those surveys as they arrive.

For its project, Ritter plans to roll out service within two years of construction beginning. Anticipated speeds and monthly prices are 1-gigabit-per-second for $80; 500 megabits per second for $70; and 200 mbps for $60, according to the release.

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