Connect Arkansas, a project of The Arkansas Capital Corporation Group (ACCG), is a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to increasing high-speed Internet subscription and improving and sustaining Internet adoption throughout Arkansas. The Connect Arkansas Broadband Act was signed into law by Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe on March 28, 2007, with the goal of improving personal lives and creating economic opportunity for Arkansans. Connect Arkansas and its dedicated team of operations, finance and marketing staff seeks to advance that goal through community-based initiatives.
ACT 604 of the State of Arkansas states that Connect Arkansas’s mission is to “prepare the people and businesses of Arkansas to secure the economic, educational, health, social, and other benefits available via broadband use.”
High-Speed Internet - Arkansas Statistics
According to the 2010 State New Economy Index, which ranks states based on their ability to compete in the new economy, Arkansas ranks 48th in the nation, which is a one spot drop from where Arkansas ranked in 2008. Arkansas now ranks 46th in deployment of broadband telecommunications which is a jump from 2008 (49th).
In a statewide survey of 604 registered Arkansas voters, released in March 2011, discovered that 68 percent of Arkansans have high-speed Internet access in their home or workplace, and that 92 percent feel that the Internet is a valuable tool for finding resources and information. However, 56 percent of those consider high-speed Internet to be a luxury item in relation to other utilities such as electricity. Further, 58 percent said they would not subscribe to high-speed Internet if an affordable option were available in their community.
Connect Arkansas believes that in order to address this lack of high-speed Internet, Arkansas residents must see the many applications of the Internet in their daily lives - a safe, quick way to pay bills; an easy alternative for making vacation reservations; a fast way to renew your car's registration tags; a way to keep up with distant relatives.
The organization currently focuses its operations in three major areas: mapping of broadband infrastructure, community strategic planning to drive Internet adoption, and development of public access points to promote Internet use. One of the unique components of this organization is the community-by-community approach used to build and aggregate demand for broadband and the close collaboration with industry to advance the supply of fast Internet service for rural areas and communities.
To facilitate statewide broadband access, Connect Arkansas, a "delivery platform neutral" entity, focuses on three major components:
Determination of existing broadband infrastructure in Arkansas
An important step in facilitating access is to create an understanding of local needs. By mapping the state's existing broadband infrastructure, Connect Arkansas provides a level of detail that was currently not available in Arkansas. These maps show available broadband infrastructure, and more importantly, where there is no access to high-speed Internet. Arkansas broadband providers can use this information to strategically optimize their network deployment plans and communities can further their Information Technology (IT) planning initiatives.
Connect Arkansas will work with community leaders to develop a strategic plan for IT deployment, while working with local communities to make high-speed Internet more affordable and computer training more available.
At the Community Level
The work of Connect Arkansas helps to build stronger communities. Through the creation of a competitive, local telecommunications infrastructure and access to high-speed Internet, Arkansas communities will be able to sustain high-value jobs and provide a greater quality of life.
For the State
According to the CSE Freedom Foundation, full broadband deployment in Arkansas will create more than 8,200 new jobs and bring in over $2.6 billion annually in additional Gross State Product (GSP).
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