SHERIDAN, Ark. (KARK) — Thousands of people living in rural Grant Co. will soon have access to high-speed internet through a multimillion-dollar project funded by a state grant and private investment.
The project, which was initially announced in Sept., will bring fiber-optic access to more than 6,400 homes and businesses. The software company Windstream is the provider. Monday, crews laid the cables in several of the county’s rural areas.
“It’s a big deal for Grant County,” said Gart Pitts, the local operations manager for Windstream. “We’re pretty excited about it. It’s going to offer broadband out in the country, where we didn’t have high speeds before.”
The state invested $10.8 million into the project, and Windstream pitched in more than $7 million.
“Right now Arkansas is leading in the rapid expansion of rural broadband,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said in a statement. “Grant County illustrates that the state investment is making a real difference in the quality of life and economy. We can’t slow down. This is a special opportunity for our state.”
With schools increasingly going digital and more people working from home, high-speed internet’s something that will move people in Grant County forward, Pitts said.
“Our governor worded it best,” Pitts said. “He said, ‘You can run the world from your front porch with what we’re doing here.’”
Camden Howard lives in Sheridan. Her home utilizes fiber-optic service through Windstream, and she said the quality is good. She said her family uses high-speed internet to work and stream.
“My husband is a college student at UALR online,” Howard said. “There’s no problem sitting at the kitchen table, working on the internet or my husband playing a game and streaming.”
Pitts said that’s the internet quality that can be expected in rural parts of the county.
“This is the type of speeds we’re putting in banks, hospitals,” Pitts said. “It’s going to be out in rural Arkansas now.”
People who want to be notified when access becomes available for their homes can go to windstream.com.Windstream participates in the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, the company’s kinetic internet can be purchased at lower costs for those in financial need, which Pitts said should help some in rural areas.
The project will take up to six months to complete, Pitts said, but some areas can begin signing up.