Little Rock, Arkansas – High-speed internet access is important for everyone in the modern era as people spend more and more time online, both for work and pleasure. With the start of the pandemic nearly three years ago, most of us switched to working from home, which was yet another proof of how important quality internet access is for everyone. The pandemic also showed that there was still room for improvement, especially in rural areas.
Earlier this year, the United States Department of Treasury approved a grant worth $47.5 million to the state of Arkansas. The idea was to invest this money in improving the broadband infrastructure across the state, especially in rural areas with no or low-quality internet access. The pandemic and the lockdowns were pretty challenging for the people living in rural areas nationwide, and that’s why the United States Department of Treasury mostly focused on these areas.
“I appreciate the Treasury Department’s approval of this funding as we continue our work toward expanding broadband access in Arkansas,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said in August this year. “Ensuring access to high-speed internet presents a challenge in rural states, and this funding will provide us an opportunity to build on the work we’ve already done through the Arkansas Rural Connect Program.”
Estimates have the broadband improvement bringing or improving service to approximately 5,500 locations. It will provide internet connection of at least 100/20 Mbps with an emphasis on rural and disadvantaged locations.
In recent years, the Federal Communications Commission has been closely monitoring fixed high-speed internet access and mobile broadband service coverage. On their website, anyone was able to check how specific areas nationwide were performing in terms of internet coverage. Although the map didn’t include many details, it was a great, easy-to-use tool that showed general coverage, which was handy for people, especially when traveling. On Friday, the Federal Communications Commission released a new version of the map showing more details for specific addresses or areas.
According to FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, the map will continue to be updated and upgraded in the future, and the most recent update was the first step in the process. The previous version of the map was only able to show block level in most parts of the country, but now, residents can look up what the internet coverage is at their exact locations.
The updated version of the map might be useful for residents, travelers, and those who are thinking of purchasing a new home if quality internet connection is one of their most important criteria. On the other hand, the map is useful for state leaders too, especially when they are creating future plans for expanding broadband access across the states.
“Today is an important milestone in our effort to help everyone, everywhere get specific information about what broadband options are available for their homes, and pinpointing places in the country where communities do not have the service they need,” Rosenworcel said. “Our pre-production draft maps are a first step in a long-term effort to continuously improve our data as consumers, providers and others share information with us.”
Per the map, 98.53 percent of Arkansas is covered by the minimum level of that fixed broadband access, which is 0.2/0.2 mbps for download and upload. Just a few areas across the state don’t have minimum internet coverage, and people in these areas have no options left but to use satellite internet.
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