City of Cabot Arkansas

The City of Cabot, Arkansas, is getting a high-speed broadband network that the city will own and that will be operated by Connect2First, the broadband unit of local power company First Electric Cooperative Corporation. Unlike many broadband buildouts these days, the network will be built without any government funding.

Instead, the project will be funded via $20 million in bonds, which were approved by residents.

Connect2First has offered broadband outside the city limits for some time. In a prepared statement, Cabot Mayor Ken Kincade noted that Connect2First already had a presence in the city and that the company was “highly regarded” and offered “reliable service.”

Until recently, Arkansas municipalities were prohibited from owning broadband networks because of an old law aimed at preventing cities from competing with other entities.

The City of Cabot did not immediately reply to an inquiry from Telecompetitor asking for additional information about the project, but an executive from a key supplier involved in the project told us that Cabot’s mayor was instrumental in achieving a change in the laws.

“The mayor and folks aligned with [him] convinced the state that they could build their own network and have a local entity own and operate it,” said Geoff Burke, senior vice president of marketing for DZS, which will supply fiber equipment for the build in Cabot.

“It could be a model for other states,” Burke said.

Construction already has begun on the network, which will serve 26,000 residents and businesses.

Also involved in the project is Irby Utilities, a fulfillment company focused on utilities.

The City of Cabot won an award from the Arkansas chapter of the American Planning Association for the project, and according to the nomination document for that award, economic development will be the “focal point of the long-term benefits of the project.”

The goal is for citizens to have faster access to healthcare, more business opportunities, and increased access to entertainment and other online services.

Additional information about Arkansas broadband, including links to state funding resources and state-specific Telecompetitor coverage can be found on the Broadband Nation page for the state.

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