Mon February 05, 2024

By Jeff Smithpeters

Flyers to come out asking Hempstead Countians about their broadband coverage
Above: Hempstead County Justice of the Peace and member of the county's Broad Committee speaks to the Hope Lions Club today about a way the state hopes to gain information about broadband access and quality in the county.

Over the next several days, Steve Atchley, Hempstead County Justice of the Peace and member of the county’s Broadband Committee, told today’s meeting of the Hope Lions Club, residents will receive a flyer in the mail or they should not ignore. Students in Hempstead County schools will also be given the flyer to take home. 

The committee needs information about your broadband internet access, specifically whether you are able to receive it at all and what the quality of your service may be.  If there are places in the county where broadband internet is not available or is not up to the standard of 100 megabytes per second download and 20 megabytes per second upload, you should call the number provided. The information will then be provided to the Arkansas State Broadband Office (AR Connect). 

“If you’re not happy with your broadband in your area in Hempstead County this letter will tell you to call a number and only elected officials can contest this. If we get a complaint, the elected official can file it on the computer, and we hope to get it corrected. Every house in Hempstead County is supposed to be accessible to broadband,” Atchley said at today’s meeting of the Hope Lions Club. 

The purpose of the gathering of this information will be to provide information to broadband companies, many of which have already been subsidized by the state with over $1 billion in grant funds from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden. The state has set the goal of providing access to broadband services to 95 percent of residents. 

Richard Reid, another member of the county’s Broadband Committee said broadband service allows residents to take courses, fulfill school and university assignments, be part of church services, set up and maintain businesses. He said that farmers who raise poultry often need broadband access to run their operations. 

“How about safety, getting appropriate information and warnings out reliably?” Reid asked. “Please, please take it very seriously. And ask yourself? What am I really lobbying for? Whatever broadband is, it's like the road out there. Nobody wants just the road. They want the road because they want to go here and there and around.” 

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Richard Reid, a member of Hempstead County's Broadband Committee, spoke during today's Hope Lions Club meeting about the next stage in making sure all Hempstead County residents have access to quality broadband service.