Legislature approves $55.3 million in broadband contracts, Cox gets largest for Logan County

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 1,296 views 

Arkansas lawmakers approved Thursday (Feb. 8) eight broadband projects and administrative costs worth $55.3 million as part of American Rescue Plan spending.

The funding will cover broadband projects in Ashley, Baxter, Chicot, Clark, Columbia, Hot Spring, Logan and Lonoke counties as well as administrative costs.

Cox Communications said its partnership with WAVE Rural Connect (Arkansas Valley Electric) in Logan County is the largest of the eight projects. It will use $14 million from the state combined with $5 million between the two partners to bring high-speed internet services to more than 1,700 underserved households in portions of rural Logan County.

“In what may serve as a model for other opportunities, the award approved today by the Arkansas General Assembly allows Cox to consider new collaborations that didn’t make economic sense before to become reality,” said Cox Communications Arkansas Vice President Tina Gabbard. “Our mission at Cox is to help connect communities and we are committed to our long-standing legacy by offering multi-gigabit, symmetrical, all-fiber high-speed internet to underserved and unserved communities across our state.”

“Arkansas Valley Electric and Wave Rural Connect aim to provide world-class fiber internet to as many rural Arkansas and Oklahoma residents as possible,” said Al Simpson, AVECC CEO. “Being able to accomplish this in parts of Logan County outside of our electric service territory is exciting. It fulfills our mission to change the communities we serve for the better.”

The new service will be available to qualifying, low-income households and provide access to necessary equipment, digital training, and cyber protections, along with a low-priced, 100 mbps broadband connection.

Cox said it also is a participant in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which enables qualified households to lower their broadband bills by $30 per month.