Windstream to begin construction of improved Internet service in Grant County – Deltaplex News
Windstream, a privately-held communications and software company, recently announced that construction will begin this month on the first of seven broadband fiber-optic expansion projects funded in partnership with the state of Arkansas. The projects will provide Kinetic by Windstream gigabit speed Internet service to more than 15,100 homes and small businesses in rural areas of seven counties in Arkansas.
Fiber-to-the-premises projects were made possible by $ 46.3 million in state grants funded through the US Federal Rescue Plan Act and administered by the Arkansas Broadband Program Rural Connect (ARC). Windstream will invest $ 17.2 million of its own capital, bringing the total cost of the program to $ 63.5 million. Fiber optic networks provide the fastest and most reliable Internet service and will meet the bandwidth needs of customers for generations to come.
Windstream President and CEO Tony Thomas was joined in Grant County when the project was first announced by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Brendan Carr and the Grant County Judge Randy Pruitt.
“I would like to thank Governor Hutchinson and Commissioner Carr for their leadership and tireless efforts to extend broadband to rural areas at high cost,” said Thomas. “Without the type of public-private partnership that we are celebrating here today, it would not be economically feasible to build fiber optic networks in America’s most rural communities. Collectively, our country has a unique opportunity to reach unserved and underserved areas, and Windstream looks forward to doing its part in our 18 states. “
“With high-speed Internet access, you can rule the world from your front porch,” Governor Hutchinson said. “It’s important that we expand access to all of Arkansas so more people have this opportunity. This much needed expansion will level the playing field for more Arkansans in rural areas by giving them internet resources available in cities.
“I am happy to be here today to kick off this broadband fiber optic expansion project,” said Commissioner Carr. “I congratulate Governor Hutchinson on establishing the Arkansas State Broadband Office, as well as the Arkansas Rural Connect program. By making broadband a priority, he recognized the transformative impact of connectivity on all aspects of life in its natural state. The seven projects we are celebrating today represent the successes of public-private partnerships in providing next-generation connectivity to rural communities, and should serve as a model for other states as they deploy federal funding to broadband in unserved areas.
Thomas thanked Grant County Judge Pruitt for partnering with Windstream to secure funding from the CRA. The project will provide fiber optic connections to approximately 6,380 homes and businesses in rural Grant County, with the state contributing $ 10.8 million and Windstream investing $ 7.2 million.
Construction in Grant County will begin this month with completion expected in the spring of 2022.
“Access to robust broadband service is critical to the county’s future growth,” Grant County Judge Randy Pruitt said. “Broadband fiber will significantly improve the daily lives of our citizens and support distance learning for students and the telehealth needs of our families. We are very grateful for this partnership with Windstream and the State of Arkansas. “
Windstream has also received grants from the ARC for the expansion of fiber broadband in Carroll, Faulkner, Perry, Searcy, Sevier and Van Buren counties.
In 2020, Windstream received nearly $ 5 million in ARC grants funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to provide fiber-optic connections and up to 1 Gig provides Internet service to approximately 1,600 households and small businesses in four counties in Arkansas – Cleburne, Dallas, Montgomery and White. Windstream contributed nearly $ 1 million to the projects, which were completed in 2021.