Three Arkansas utility companies have received approximately $11.8 million to provide rural broadband in the state.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $550 million in rural broadband funding from as part of the ReConnect Program. This marks the second round of the program, with the first round providing $698 million.
In Arkansas, the Mountain View Telephone Company, Northern Arkansas Telephone Company and the Arkansas Telephone Company received grants to deploy broadband. Throughout the United States, the USDA received 172 applications requesting a total of $1.72 billion for the second round of ReConnect funding.
“The need for rural broadband has never been more apparent than it is now – as our nation manages the coronavirus national emergency. Access to telehealth services, remote learning for school children, and remote business operations all require access to broadband,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “I am so proud of our rural communities who have been working day in and day out, just like they always do, producing the food and fiber America depends on. We need them more than ever during these trying times, and expanding access to this critical infrastructure will help ensure rural America prospers for years to come.”
Northern Arkansas Telephone Company received the largest grant in the state with $4.7 million. This grant will be used for a fiber-to-the-premises network that will bring high-speed broadband internet to Marion County. According to the USDA, the network will connect 1,202 people, 68 farms, and six businesses.
Arkansas Telephone had the second-highest grant amount, receiving a $4.1 million grant. This grant will be for a network to connect parts of parts of Pope and Van Buren counties, impacting 491 people, 92 farms, and four businesses.
Mountain View Telephone Compay received a $2.9 million grant to install a fiber-to-the-premises network in Stone County. This network will impact 1,331 individuals, 39 farms, six businesses, two fire stations and one post office.