Nowadays, most everyone uses their phones or laptops daily, but some Arkansans don’t have internet access to do so— now some organizations are working to change that
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Whether it’s to send an email, text, or simply look something up, many of us use our phones or laptops every day— but some Arkansans don’t have the internet access to do that.
“[We’re] committed to making high-speed internet really more accessible and affordable in Arkansas,” said Hunter Goodman, Assistant Professor in the Department of Agriculture at the University of Arkansas.
Goodman works with the Arkansas Connectivity Coalition to make that possible.
She explained that the COVID-19 pandemic shed a light on the importance of closing the digital divide.
“Especially in our rural communities where there is not equitable internet access for all, it makes it very difficult for Arkansans to access the information they need, and for our children to access the information that they need,” Goodman described.
The Arkansas State Broadband Office has also been working to tackle this issue.
“When you think about the fact that 87.3% of all Arkansans qualify for digital equity and opportunity programming, that’s a large number,” said Director Glen Howie. “It’s really an all-state issue that requires an all-state effort to provide all-state solutions and that’s the role that we’re going to have moving forward.”
Howie said that a recent map showed that about 269.000 locations don’t have reliable access to the internet, which is why he’s asked Arkansans to help.
“Critically important, right now that every Arkansan go to the federal map, look at their location, see if what has been reported as being available to them by the internet service providers is accurate,” said Howie.
This will allow the office to continue its efforts in the new year.
“It’s going to be a very heavy planning year for the Arkansas State Broadband Office, we have to submit to the federal government, an action plan that talks about what the state would like to do specific to broadband infrastructure with the additional funds that are going to come down,” said Howie.
It’s a lot of planning and will take many hands, but both Howie and Goodman said that widespread access will benefit every Arkansan in more ways than one.
“We want to not only serve to connect the unconnected, but also rethink what the economy and society can mean for many Arkansans,” said Howie.
“An equitable opportunity for access to education and health care and basic quality of life,” Goodman added.
Steps to verify broadband map:
- Click here and type in your home address.
- Verify your address location, and if the Broadband Office said that it’s wrong, submit a location challenge.
- After that, validate your available internet speeds. If it’s wrong, the office said to submit an availability challenge.