OzarksGo, a telecommunications subsidiary of Ozarks Electric Cooperative, hosted FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr on Thursday at its Fayetteville headquarters for a discussion on fiber broadband projects.
The meeting was spearheaded by the state’s electric cooperatives. OzarksGo represents the first cooperative-owned broadband project in Arkansas. It connected its first customer in 2017, according to a press release, and now serves more than 27,000 customers in NorthwestArkansas and northeast Oklahoma. Fourteen electric cooperatives in the state now have invested or announced plans to invest more than $1.66 billion in broadband communication infrastructure, exclusively infiber-optic networks.
Diamond State Networks, a new company providing wholesale broadband by uniting the cooperative networks, plans to cover more than 64 percent of the state’s land mass with more than 50,000 miles of fiber lines providing access to 1.25 million rural Arkansans.
Carr said the Arkansas projects have demonstrated an effective model to bring next-gen broadband access to underserved areas . “By bringing high-speed internet to areas that previously had only limited connectivity, they have transformed life for many Arkansans and paved the way for future development,” he said.
Mitchell Johnson, president and CEO of Ozarks Electric, said OzarksGo was launched with a mission to improve the quality of life of those within its service area through reliable, affordable high-speed internet.
“Internet access is a requirement to participate in the modern economy, and we have been humbled by the overwhelming response from our members,” he said. “We sincerely appreciate Commissioner Carr’s recognition of our efforts and support for our continued endeavors.”
Companies participating in the meeting included OzarksGo; Diamond State Networks; Empower, a subsidiary of Craighead Electric Cooperative; Wave Rural Connect, a subsidiary of Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative; South Central Connect, a subsidiary of South Central Electric Cooperative; NEXT, Powered by NAEC, a subsidiary of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative; and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives.