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Project Profile: Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) Broadband Project, Arkansas

stylized representation of internet data waves flowing over rural homes and forest

Arkansas Rural Fiber Expansion Project Connection plan to address increasing availability of broadband service across Arkansas including addressing the digital divide in Arkansas (210,000 households are currently considered underserved, meaning their access is slower than 100+ Mbps)
Photo Credit: Arkansas Department of Commerce Broadband Office

Project Name

Arkansas Fiber Expansion Project



Project Sponsor / Borrower

State of Arkansas

Program Areas

P3Project FinanceValue Capture

Value Capture Techniques

Joint Development, Private Contribution, Right-of-Way Use Agreements


Telecommunications: Fiber Broadband/High-Speed Internet


The State of Arkansas is partnered with Windstream to deliver seven fiber broadband expansion projects across seven Arkansas counties. Construction on the first of the seven fiber broadbands in Grant County began in September 2021, and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2022. Other counties in the overall project include Carroll, Faulkner, Perry, Searcy, Sevier and Van Buren. Windstream will deliver its Kinetic product, a gigabit-speed internet service, to over 15,100 homes and small businesses in rural areas.

Currently, Arkansas lacks fiber broadband access with 27 percent of residents not having adequate broadband infrastructure and 54 percent live in areas with only one internet provider. Fiber networks provide the fastest and most reliable internet services to meet rural residents’ needs. In August 2019, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced the Arkansas Rural Connect Broadband Grant Program to bring high-speed broadband service to rural communities.

Cities, counties, and unincorporated communities of over 500 people, at least 200 of which lack broadband coverage. No more than 80 percent of the population is served by broadband are eligible to apply for the grant program with their internet service provider. However, communities can partner together to meet the eligibility criteria and apply together. The grant reimburses costs for broadband deployment, rental, depreciation, equipment costs, wages, and engineering costs.

The Rural Connect Broadband Grant Program will provide up to 30 grants with a maximum size of $75,000 each. The grants require approval from either the Legislative Council or Joint Budget Committee. The Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are only two of the Federal programs recognizing the need for fiber broadband in Arkansas’ rural neighborhoods


$63.5 million

Funding Sources

The project is funded by $46.3 million in state grants by the Federal American Rescue Plan Act and administered by the Arkansas Rural Connect Broadband Grant Program. Windstream will invest $17.2 million in capital. The Federal Coronavirus Aid, relief, and Economic Security Act awarded nearly $5 million in Arkansas Rural Connect grants to Windstream.

Project Delivery / Contract Method

Public-Private Partnerships

Private Partner


Project Advisors / Consultants




Duration / Status

September 2021 – Spring 2022

Financial Status/Financial Performance

Fully funded


Public-Private Partnership to build fiber networks to the most rural communities in America. The State of Arkansas partnered with Windstream to address the lack of high-speed internet in rural areas in Arkansas. Through Federal grants and private funding, the project will deliver gigabit-speed internet service to over 15,100 homes and small businesses in rural areas.

Increased educational, healthcare, and economic opportunities that lead to enhanced service access and quality of life.

The Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) program was established in 2019 and allows service providers to partner with government entities to apply for broadband grants. The program was first supported by a combination of state money and allocations from Arkansas’ share of funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Related Links / Articles


Scott Morris
Senior Advisor, Corporate Affairs - Windstream

wrapped fiber cable in various colors

the Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) Broadband Program to expand fiber to thousands of rural residents in the state. Windstream noted it plans to kick in $17.2 million of its own money for the projects to supplement the state grants.
Photo Credits: Planet Fox from Pixabay & Arkansas Department of Commerce Broadband Office


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