Arkansas Capitol

Arkansas will award Windstream over $46 million in funding to help expand broadband across seven counties. Windstream intends to contribute an additional $17.2 million to the project.

The funding comes from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and is administered by the Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) Broadband Program. Windstream says it will reach over 15K households and businesses with Kinetic by Windstream fiber broadband service as a result of the funding.

“I want to thank Governor Hutchinson and Commissioner Carr for their leadership and tireless efforts to expand broadband to high-cost rural areas,” Windstream CEO Tony Thomas said in a prepared statement. “Without the kind of public-private partnership we celebrate here today, it would not be economically feasible to build fiber networks to the most rural communities in America. Collectively, our nation has a once-in-a generation opportunity to reach unserved and underserved areas, and Windstream is eager to do our part across our 18-state footprint.”

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Construction for the first project in Grant County is expected to begin this month and be completed by the Spring of 2022. Other counties in the overall project include Carroll, Faulkner, Perry, Searcy, Sevier and Van Buren.

Arkansas previously awarded Windstream nearly $5 million for rural broadband expansion through last year’s CARES Act.

Windstream’s CEO recently outlined the carrier’s growing interest in partnering with localities, states, and the federal government to expand its rural broadband reach at the Fiber Connect Conference in July of this year.

Saying the company was officially open for business, Thomas encouraged public-private partnership for Windstream.

“We want to partner with local communities, county officials, state programs, federal programs, we are going to be very active,” he said at Fiber Connect. “We have a dedicated team that we have stood up to run partnerships with local communities by using local people inside those communities.”

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