Key Issues Update

Rural Broadband

Broadband is critical to our state’s agricultural business community and many farmers and ranchers are currently unserved or underserved, however with the current resources available, there is an opportunity to provide quality broadband across the state and increase the productivity of farming operations statewide.

The Arkansas Department of Commerce announced February 22 that more than $53 million will be awarded to 10 internet service providers in Arkansas to extend high-speed internet in eight underserved counties throughout the state. This award completes the sixth award phase of the Arkansas Rural Connect broadband infrastructure grant program which is designed to expand the broadband footprint in rural Arkansas communities. The $53 million investment, combined with $18.8 million in provider matching funds, will result in nearly 5,800 homes and businesses being connected to fast, reliable internet in Ashley, Baxter, Chicot, Clark, Columbia, Hot Spring, Logan, and Lonoke counties.

The Arkansas broadband office will receive $1 billion in federal funding for broadband access from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Broadband funding will go directly to the broadband office to fund future grants.

Broadband programs

Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant

  • Funds to cover costs for broadband development in rural communities are available for qualifying towns, cities, and counties to extend broadband internet access 
  • Applications are awarded through the State of Arkansas and managed by UAMS Institute for Digital Health & Innovation, will be accepted on an until funds are exhausted
  • Grantees will conduct these studies in preparation for federal grant and loan applications for broadband development programs

Click here for more information on this grant program.

For questions regarding the Rural Broadband I.D. Expenses Trust Fund Grant Program, please email or call 855-234-3348.

AR Rural Connect (ARC)

The Arkansas Rural Connect grant program is administered by the Arkansas State Broadband Office, housed within the Department of Commerce. The program has awarded nearly $550 million to connect more than 129,000 unserved and underserved locations throughout Arkansas.

Click here for more information on Rural Connect.

For questions regarding Arkansas Rural Connect, broadband coverage, or federal broadband grants, please contact Kimberly Young at (501) 682-7306 or email

For questions regarding the American Connection Project Broadband Coalition, please contact Tina May at 202-384-7478 or email at

Reconnect Loan and Grant Program

  • USDA will make up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans
  • This program will generate private sector investment to deploy broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed internet e-Connectivity to as many rural premises as possible
  • The ReConnect Program offers unique federal financing and funding options in the form of loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America that don’t currently have sufficient access to broadband

Click here for more information on this program.

Recent updates on the Reconnect Program.

For questions regarding the Reconnect Loan and Grant Program, please contact Tony Matlock at (771) 200-8904 at