State Representative John Maddox's Weekly Column

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered online activity in our state. More Arkansans are working remotely, learning through distance education, using telehealth, and attending online church services.


It remains to be seen to what extent some of the changes in habit will continue after the health crisis ends. That is why 2020 is a critical year for closing the digital divide in Arkansas.


This week, the House and Senate committees for Advanced Communication and Information Technology were briefed on a new tool designed to give the state an accurate picture of the current broadband service available.


Arkansans are encouraged to visit broadband.arkansas.gov and click on the “Test Your Broadband Speed” green button icon in the lower right-hand corner.


This directs the user to a speed test, which will determine the user’s upload speed and download speed. The user will then be directed to a quick survey of 11 questions.


The questions include asking the user the name of their provider, how much they pay for the service, and what speed has been promised by the provider.


The results of the speed test are then integrated into the Arkansas Broadband Survey Results Dashboard.


The Arkansas State Broadband Plan outlines a goal of seeing 25Mbps/3Mbps broadband deployed to all population centers in Arkansas over 500 by the year 2022. While Arkansas has a way to go before reaching that goal, we are making progress. Just recently, the legislature approved a measure to direct $100 million of CARES Act funding to the Arkansas Rural Connect program, a grant program designed to expand the broadband footprint in rural Arkansas communities.


The information you provide will help the Arkansas State Broadband Office determine what areas of our state are underserved and what our next steps should be to keep our state connected.


9-18-20 5:23 p.m. KAWX.ORG