WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that Arkansas received its first “Internet for All” grants for deploying high-speed Internet service networks and developing digital skills training programs under the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. Arkansas is receiving $5,843,671.85 in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed by President Biden, to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable high-speed Internet service throughout the state.
"High-speed Internet connectivity enables residents of Arkansas to access education, workforce opportunities, and healthcare," said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. "I thank Governor Hutchinson for their commitment to the Internet for All initiative and delivering Internet service to all in Arkansas."
“For the past eight years, getting Arkansans connected and using broadband has been a top priority of my administration,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Broadband is no longer a luxury, it is necessary infrastructure for our economy to move forward, for our students to stay educated, and for all citizens to function in everyday tasks from staying connected to friends and family to paying bills. The grants being provided through the Internet for All program will allow Arkansas to reach another 100,000-plus households and bring us closer to our goal of getting every Arkansan connected with affordable Internet and closing the digital divide in our most vulnerable populations.”
“Today marks a tremendous milestone for the state of Arkansas as we continue the work of connecting the unconnected, prioritizing broadband affordability, and ensuring digital opportunity for all Arkansans,” said Glen Howie, Director of the Arkansas State Broadband Office. “With the approval of these planning funds, the state can now begin the process of developing innovative solutions that will provide for lasting positive impacts in education, healthcare, small business, and agriculture for generations to come.”
All 50 U.S. states and six territories applied for planning grant funding for the Internet for All initiative's Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity Act program. Grant awards for all 56 eligible entities will be announced on a rolling basis.
About Arkansas’s Planning Grants
Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program
The BEAD Program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed Internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs.
Arkansas will receive $4,999,998.75 to fund various activities including:
- Creating a five-year action plan that decreases the digital illiteracy rate in Arkansas by 50%, and enhances economic growth and job creation within the state;
- Identifying unserved and underserved locations;
- Increasing capacity and staffing of the Arkansas broadband office;
- Cataloguing high-speed Internet access and equity activities across the state;
- Surveying unserved, underserved and underrepresented communities to better understand barriers to high-speed Internet service adoption.
The Digital Equity Act provides $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs to ensure that all people and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. The first part of NTIA’s execution of the Digital Equity Act is to fund digital equity planning efforts.
Arkansas will receive $843,673.10 to fund various activities including:
- Creating an Arkansas Digital Equity plan;
- Deploying a planning team that will collect and analyze data to better understand digital inequities in Arkansas;
- Engaging with stakeholders in multiple languages;
- Training stakeholders to develop local digital equity plans to be incorporated into the state's plan.
Internet for All
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access in communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed Internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed Internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost high-speed Internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.
Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Visit AffordableConnectivity.gov to learn more.
For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-speed Internet service programs, please visit InternetforAll.gov.