Last week, Mayor Wilson represented The City of Osceola at the Arkansas Rural Development Conference in Hot Springs. On Thursday, Governor Hutchinson spoke to the attendees regarding his plan to deploy high-speed broadband internet access to towns across Arkansas, see his press release below. In his speech, the Governor specified that Mississippi County Electric Cooperative, along with other coops, have signed on as partners. Afterwards, Mayor Wilson discussed the details of this plan with Brad Harrison of MCEC. Harrison said that they (MCEC) hope to provide broadband to all their customers and could include Osceola Municipal Light & Power customers. Wilson informed Harrison that Osceola could be interested. He said that his office is working on an application for a feasibility study. If all goes as planned, MCEC will have the study completed by the end of the third quarter 2019.
It is hoped that we might be able to get as much as 100 megabits for as little as $55 per month. It goes without saying that this would be very beneficial for Osceola residents and other OML&P customers. Osceola would also benefit by using this value-added service as an incentive for attracting new and retaining our existing small retail businesses. I will keep you posted as the months progress.
For Immediate Release
From the Office of Governor Asa Hutchinson
Governor Hutchinson Releases Arkansas State Broadband Plan, Goal for Rural Connectivity in Four Years
25 Mbps/3 Mbps broadband to all population centers over 500 by 2022
LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today released the Arkansas State Broadband Plan, which sets a goal to deploy high-speed broadband to all Arkansas communities with more than 500 residents by 2022. The high-speed broadband would have a rate of 25 megabits per second for download and 3 megabits per second for upload.
This plan details the Governor’s goal, how close Arkansas is to achieving that goal, and outlines the means by which that goal can be achieved. You can view the plan in its entirety below.
Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:
“Arkansas has already established itself as a national leader in providing high-speed, broadband connectivity to our schools. Today, as a result, our students are developing 21st century skills in the classroom to succeed in tomorrow’s workforce. Our focus now extends beyond our schools and into our rural communities. Equal access to high-speed broadband in rural Arkansas is a critical component to the success and longevity of our state’s economy, and I believe this plan will help us accomplish that goal within the next four years.”
In March 2019, Governor Hutchinson charged the Arkansas Development Finance Authority Economic Policy Division, led by Nathan Smith, Ph.D., to develop a State Broadband Plan. Stakeholders from the private and public sectors assisted in preparing the plan and provided key feedback during the process. Stakeholders include:
Arkansas Department of Information Systems; the University of Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service; the Arkansas Department of Health; AT&T; Cox; CenturyLink; Windstream; the University of Arkansas System and the ARE-ON Network; Larry Frazier of Rural Arkansas Telecommunication Systems; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives; the Rural Electric Cooperative Association; technology expert Brent Skorup of the Mercatus Center; Elizabeth Bowles of Aristotle and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee; Ted Thomas, Chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission; the Arkansas Department of Transportation; and Cynthia Edwards, Deputy Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
With the Governor’s release of a state broadband plan, telecommunications companies, rural electric cooperatives, utilities and internet service providers will be able to cite the plan when applying for federal grants to expand broadband infrastructure and connectivity in rural Arkansas.