JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Federal Communications Commission will spend $22.6 million in the next 10 years to boost internet service to several Region 8 counties.
The FCC Monday authorized funding over the next decade to expand broadband to 6,582 unserved rural Arkansas homes and businesses in Baxter, Fulton, Izard, Marion, Sharp, and Stone Counties.
According to a news release, this is the second wave of support from last year’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction.
Last fall the auction gathered $1.488 billion in support to expand the broadband to more than 700,000 rural homes and businesses over the next 10 years.
The first two rounds of authorizations are providing $278.4 million nationwide over the next decade to expand service to 97,998 locations.
In Arkansas, this second wave will bring $40.8 million in May and June, which will expand broadband service to over 11,934 homes and businesses.
The FCC will be authorizing additional funding as it approves final applications of the winning bidders from the auction over the next coming months.
“I’m pleased to announce that the second round of funding starts now for buildout of high-speed Internet service to 6,582 rural Arkansas homes and businesses, which will bring them to the right side of the digital divide and give them access to the 21st-century opportunities that broadband offers,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “Providers will be deploying gigabit-speed connections to all the locations for which funding is being authorized today, making cutting-edge broadband available to these rural consumers.”
Next, Powered by North Arkansas Electric Company, will receive funding over the next 10 years for each county to increase minimum internet speeds:
- Baxter County: $3,399,664
- Fulton County: $7,536,166
- Izard County: $5,175,805
- Marion County: $364,223
- Sharp County: $5,933,299
- Stone County: $190,869
Providers must build out 40% of assigned homes and businesses within three years and build out must increase by 20% each year.
The connect America Fund Phase II auction is part of an effort by FCC to close the digital divide in rural areas.
In addition to the funding made available through this auction, the Commission recently provided 186 companies in 43 states $65.7 million in additional annual funding to upgrade broadband speeds in rural communities.
Providers will begin receiving funding this month.