Arkansas’ second largest telecom is preparing to make affordable, high-speed Internet access and the computers to connect to it available in state.
Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink, Arkansas’ second largest telecom provider, serves a swath of rural and suburban Arkansas. In its recently announced $22 billion mega-merger with Qwest Communications, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) put an interesting stipulation on the company combo.
The FCC said that in order to protect the public interest, the new company must launch a "major broadband adoption program for low-income consumers" in its territories, which cover parts of 37 states.
The companies must offer qualifying low-income households broadband connections starting at less than $10 per month and computers for less than $150, keeping the sign-up window open for five years.
So does that mean CenturyLink may soon be offering low-dollar Internet connections and $150 computers to low-income Arkansans?
"Yes," said CenturyLink spokesman Jeff Jones. "CenturyLink is currently working on the aspects of the broadband adoption program and plans to make the offering public in about six months. We believe this is a good program for low income consumers who want broadband services."
CenturyLink serves five major regions in Arkansas: The River Valley; Fort Smith Area; Northwest Arkansas outside of the major metropolitan areas; Northeast Arkansas; and Central Arkansas from Cabot and Jacksonville down to Stuttgart.