Rural broadband grant program to allow more companies to participate

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 879 views 

Electric cooperatives and their subsidiaries are now eligible to apply for an Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) grant to build out broadband in rural Arkansas, the Arkansas Department of Commerce announced Friday (Sept. 4).

The Arkansas Legislative Council executive subcommittee approved the change outlined in a supplemental emergency ARC rule this week. The approved rule also gives further flexibility to the threshold that requires 500 population and retail customers.

“Now more than ever we see the need to fully connect Arkansas and eliminate the digital divide,” Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston said in a statement. “I’m appreciative of the Arkansas Legislature for passing rules this week that will remove barriers and allow more flexibility for grant applicants.”

The ARC grant program had previously received $25 million in state and CARES Act funding. In August the CARES Act Steering Committee and the Arkansas Legislature approved an additional $100-million for the program to deploy broadband in rural Arkansas. The department is evaluating applications with a focus on projects that can deploy broadband to qualified areas before Dec. 30.

Following are Arkansas Rural Connect award recipients as of Sept. 3.
Fairfield Bay & Arkansas Telephone Company $1,568,750.25
Ozark & Pinnacle Communications $1,909,265
Lonoke & CableSouth Media 3 $2,000,000
Nashville & Premier Holdings $448,580.30
Cave City & Hillbilly Wireless $803,762
Magazine & Magazine Telephone Company $1,026,692
Cotton Plant & Hillbilly Wireless $497,001
Hamburg & CableSouth Media 3 $2,000,000
Earle & Comcast $1,807,002
Hazen & Aristotle Unified Communications $1,900,000
Donaldson & Central Arkansas Telephone Company $1,191,000
Crossett & CableSouth Media 3 $2,000,000
Carlisle & CableSouth Media 3 $2,000,000
Palestine & East Arkansas Video $927,000
Emmet & Hope Community TV $193,000
Center Point & Premier Holdings $714,495
Diamondhead & Resort TV Cable Company $601,000
Saline County & Aristotle Unified Communications $2,962,530
Montgomery County & Windstream $1,645,530