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Arkansas to receive millions to expand broadband internet

Arkansas will receive at least $100 million to provide broadband internet for all Arkansans.

ARKANSAS, USA — Nearly $4 billion will go to Arkansas as a part of President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and one big item the state plans to focus on is more accessible broadband for Arkansans.

"This will bring good benefit to the state of Arkansas and I'm delighted to see that it passed,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Benefits for Arkansas include $3.6 billion dollars for roads and bridges, $528 million for clean drinking water, and $100 million for broadband internet.

"Far too many places in our state people don't have access to reliable internet,” said Greg Leding, Arkansas District 4 Senator.  “So, you've had parents have to go and sit in McDonald’s parking lot so their kid could create a homework assignment."

Senator Leding says the pandemic has highlighted the critical need for broadband internet across Arkansas.

University of Arkansas student Emelia Burks says that having internet access is now a necessity, like having food and water.

"It's all the more important,” Burks said. “Because it feels as if we kind of transitioned to doing more and more things through the internet and through the safety of your home, you can almost leave groups of people behind without giving them the access.”

She has taken online classes in the past and can't imagine how much harder it would be without proper internet access.

“I think that providing people with the necessity to live a dignified life gives them a foundation to create a better life for themselves or to maintain a good life,” said Burks.

"I truly believe that 50 years from now, historians are going to look back on this moment and say that's the moment America began to win the competition for the 21st century,” said President Joe Biden.

Despite some Arkansas lawmakers voting no on the bipartisan bill, Senator Leding is calling this a win for the state.

"It's something that everybody, regardless of your party should be able to support," said Senator Leding. "Of course, for these things to become reality, people are going to have to work on these things. So, it's going to mean jobs for the state as well."

Senator Leding says he hopes we can begin to see the early effects of this bill in the coming months.

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