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Diamond State Networks to spend $1.66 billion on broadband expansion in Arkansas



Little Rock, Arkansas — With a goal to provide high-speed internet access to 1.25 million rural Arkansans, a coalition of 13 Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Diamond State Networks is the newest wholesale broadband provider in the state.

The Jonesboro-based coalition is co-managed by Mitchell Johnson, president, and CEO of Ozarks Electric, and Jeremiah Sloan, president, and CEO of Craighead Electric.

Diamond State’s network will cover more than 64% of Arkansas with more than 50,000 miles of fiber. The board of directors includes executives from the 13 partner cooperatives or subsidiary fiber networks.

“Together, the 13 electric cooperatives have invested, or are planning to invest, more than $1.66 billion in broadband communication infrastructure, exclusively in fiber-optic networks. Focusing on reliability, quality, and sustainability, the network will serve nearly 600,000 potential customer locations, and will have an immensely positive impact on the state’s economy by helping to make Arkansas a place where people want to live and do business for years to come,” noted a statement from the network.

According to Johnson, connecting the cooperative’s broadband networks will bring affordable, high-speed internet access to “every corner of our state.”

“Ultimately it will offer local internet service providers better access and capacity to deliver their services, and better opportunities to directly serve businesses with reliable connectivity wherever they are. We’re making it affordable to reach more areas with best-in-class technology to close the gaps from past limitations,” Johnson said.

According to a recent report from Broadband Development Group (BDG), the state has 210,000 households underserved by broadband services, but 100,000 of them are being addressed by federal and state programs.

The remaining 110,000 households could be reached at a cost of up to $550 million using federal funding.