LITTLE ROCK (April 27, 2020) – The Arkansas Department of Commerce announced today the Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) broadband grant program will now begin accepting applications. The ARC program will provide grants to expand the broadband footprint in rural Arkansas. Rules for the program were approved in February by the Legislature. Applicants for grants may include cities, counties and unincorporated communities with internet service providers.
The high-speed broadband must be at a speed of at least 25 megabits per second for download and 3 megabits per second for upload (25/3 Mbps). Allowable projects include deploying broadband into areas that completely lack service or upgrading areas that have poor service.
“Broadband is the great equalizer for competing on a global scale,” said Governor Asa Hutchinson. “Our students in rural Arkansas can access the same information as students from metropolitans across the world.”
“With the COVID-19 crisis, broadband has become even more of a necessity, said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “Telemedicine, distance education, and telework all require a strong broadband connection. The pandemic has magnified the need for the Governor’s program and it is timely and essential for sustaining Arkansas in this difficult time.”
Applications will be completed in partnership between counties or local communities and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Applications can be found at www.arkansasedc.com/arc<http://www.arkansasedc.com/arc>. The application window will close on August 15.
Communities are eligible if they have at least 500 in population and at least 200 of that population lacking broadband coverage and no more than 80% served. If a community does not meet the criteria they may partner with surrounding communities that do.