This week, I released the details of the Arkansas State Broadband Plan. This is the plan that will expand high-speed broadband internet to the rural areas of Arkansas.
The time for expanding broadband all over the state is now. As recently as 30 years ago, the idea of internet was as foreign to most people as the concept of electricity was to people 200 years ago.
But we have seen the technology grow to the point that it is almost as essential to our daily life as electricity.
Power companies and government have accepted the social obligation to see that electricity is broadly available. Likewise, broadband has become so essential to modern life that we can’t ignore people who don’t have it. Students need access to do their schoolwork at home. For many, broadband is essential for access to health care information and services. We buy merchandise and pay our taxes over the internet.
To ensure that no one is left behind simply because they choose to live in a rural area, we have developed this plan.
The goal of the plan is to provide high-speed broadband to every area of the state with a population of at least 500 people by 2022. This is ambitious but doable.
The standard is 25/3, which means we will provide internet at the speed of 25 megabits per second for downloading data and 3 megabits per second for uploading. You might ask, “What does this mean in real life?” The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette explained it best. This means you can download a song in one second, and you can download a two-hour movie in about 10 minutes.
On the day we released the plan, I received an email from a man who lives in a wooded rural area in the southeast corner of the state. The closest town is nine miles away.
He said that the high-speed internet he uses is expensive, but even the fast internet he pays for is slow.
He said his internet service is so slow that he couldn’t download the news story so he could read about this plan. He expressed the frustration that many in rural areas feel. This plan will resolve many of these issues.
I am grateful to Dr. Nathan Smith of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, who oversaw the work to produce this plan, and to all the private-sector partners who assisted him. This is one more way that we are making Arkansas an even better place to live and work.
To read the entire plan, go to my website at governor.arkansas.gov.