Plans for improving broadband internet access in Arkansas

The State of Arkansas and the Broadband Development Group are working on a plan to improve high-speed internet access across the state.

GARFIELD, Ark. — Broadband internet has always been a problem in rural Benton County. The pandemic made that very clear.

“Broadband has become an integral part of how we live our lives,” Benton County Judge Barry Moehring. “It’s not a luxury anymore. It’s a necessity.”

High-speed internet is a necessity that many rural areas are without.

“They can’t seem to get Internet,” said Benton County, District 6 Justice of the Peace. “Some of these people don’t have access phone line.”

Armas lives in rural Benton County. He says he sees firsthand how bad slow the internet can be to the community.

“Remember that in rural areas, there are citizens who live in rural areas,” Armas said. “There are people who work for corporations and have to get zoom links as well in rural areas. It’s no different than in the city.”

Wednesday night’s meeting was all about getting feedback from residents on what they needed and their internet problems. The state is working to meet those needs.

“They’ll allocate American Rescue Plan and infrastructure dollars to broadband,” Judge Moehring said. “And that is by developing a statewide strategy and we’re providing input for that strategy.”

He says millions of dollars from ARPA funds and a portion of the 100 million dollars from the infrastructure bill will help fund this.

If you missed Wednesday night’s meeting, you can still place your input by calling Broadband Internet Group at (501)712-5275.

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