Cox Communications is set to get $14.2 million in broadband funding from the state of Arkansas, according to a report published by local media outlet Arkansas Democrat Gazette. Cox will contribute additional funding for total project costs of $19.6 million.
Six other companies also will be getting funding for a total of $53.3 million.
Also among the awardees are Connect2First Internet ($10.9 million grant, $14.7 million total project costs), CableSouth ($7.9 million, $10.7 million), Ashley-Chicot Electric Cooperative ($6.6 million, $8.8 million), Four States Fiber ($5.2 million, $8 million), South Central Connect/Central Arkansas Telephone Cooperative ($6.1 million for two projects costing a total of $9.3 million) and NEXT Powered by NAFC ($2.1 million, $2.9 million).
The funding came to the state through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), according to the report. That act allotted funding to each state that could be used for a range of infrastructure investments, including broadband.
The state broadband office sent a letter to the state legislature January 13 asking for the $53.3 million in grant funding to be released, but the release was delayed when the state’s new governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued an executive order repealing certain actions taken by outgoing governor Asa Hutchinson, according to the Democrat Gazette report.
The Arkansas Rural Connect broadband grant program has awarded $550 million in federal and state funds for broadband projects, according to the report, which also noted that the state is using a total of $158 million in ARPA funding for broadband. Of that, $150.2 million will be used for broadband projects and $7.8 million will be used for broadband administrative expenses.
The $53.3 million in awards are part of a total of $55.3 million authorized for the projects. The additional $2 million is for administrative expenses, according to the report.
The Arkansas State Broadband Office website has information about the Arkansas Rural Connect broadband program, but does not appear to have been updated with information about the latest batch of awards. The office did not immediately reply to an inquiry from Telecompetitor about that.