301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

11.1.23 – TB&P

The Arkansas State Broadband Office is seeking public comment on a proposal for how to use $1 billion to increase internet access in unserved and underserved parts of the state. Officials are accepting feedback on Volume One of the state’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Initial Proposal.

The comments will be used to help draft the state’s proposal for how to use the federal funding, according to a press release.

“It is critically important that our state’s residents and business owners be able to provide accurate feedback about the broadband service available to them,” state broadband director Glen Howie said. “This public comment period will allow all Arkansans to have a voice in how we design that process.”

State officials announced in June that Arkansas would receive $1 billion through the BEAD program, which is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NITA) under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

ARConnect, the state’s broadband office, submitted the state’s Five-Year Action Plan in August to NITA, a U.S. Department of Commerce agency. The plan provides analysis of existing broadband assets and digital opportunity programming in the state, and explains how BEAD funding can mitigate gaps that exist, according to a press release. 

Volume One of the initial proposal details how the state will run the mapping challenge process for grant-eligible locations. Eligible challengers to the state’s forthcoming broadband map will include local government, nonprofit organizations and internet service providers. 

Public comments will be accepted through Nov. 18. The draft proposal and feedback form are available on ARConnect’s website. Volume Two of the initial proposal will be released for public comment in the coming weeks.