fiber broadband patch panel

Regional operator Ritter Communications has been awarded eight grants totaling about $44 million to provide all-fiber broadband networks in Arkansas. The grants were awarded through the Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) program, which is funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The eight grants are in addition to other ARC grants previously made to Ritter, bringing the total ARC funding awarded to the provider to $67 million.

The new Arkansas Rural Connect awards: Cross County Crowley’s Ridge ($3,180,100); Cross County West ($4,257,650); Jefferson County Northeast ($4,263,828); Jefferson County Northwest ($11,305,061); Pope Appleton/Hector/Scottsville ($5,665,012); Pope Southwest ($7,053,243); St. Francis County North Central ($4,311,437) and St. Francis County Northwest ($3,296,875).

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Ritter will supplement the funding to “ensure ubiquitous network coverage” and make the final connections to homes and businesses. The areas will have access to Ritter’s RightFiber symmetrical 1 Gbps service. The networks can be upgraded to 10 Gbps as demand increases, according to the company.

Arkansas Rural Connect

“Ritter Communications has become a trusted leader in getting and keeping Arkansans connected to each other and to essential services,” Ritter Communications CEO Alan Morse said in a press release. “We were pleased to partner with local Arkansas communities to jointly apply for these grants, and we appreciate the confidence the State of Arkansas has placed in us to bring these projects to fruition. We are eager to help these communities and the State bridge the digital divide and bring state-of-the-art broadband services to business and residents there.”

Ritter’s previous Arkansas Rural Connect funding included:

  • $12.8 million to build networks in Crittenden County and south Independence County
  • $2.3 million to deploy broadband in Augusta (some of that funding came through the CARES Act)

In addition to Arkansas, Ritter serves Texas, Missouri and Tennessee.

Joan Engebretson contributed to this report

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