Lincoln, Pryor, Berry, Snyder, Ross Announce $102M to Expand Broadband in Arkansas

Little Rock – U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor along with U.S. Representatives Marion Berry (AR-01), Vic Snyder (AR-02) and Mike Ross (AR-04) today announced that the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock will receive $102,131,393 in Recovery Act funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce to expand Arkansas’s broadband infrastructure.

 Senators Lincoln and Pryor and Representatives Snyder and Ross announced the funding today at UAMS, along with UAMS Chancellor Daniel Rahn and Rick Wade, senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to the Secretary of Commerce.

 UAMS will use its funds to upgrade and expand Arkansas’s broadband networks by offering substantial broadband upgrades, broadband equipment and connectivity fiber for 474 community anchor institutions, including colleges and universities, public libraries, and health care facilities. Boosting the state’s broadband capabilities will create jobs and support long-term economic development.

 “This Recovery Act investment is a game-changer for our state that will expand broadband Internet access in all of Arkansas’s 75 counties,” Lincoln said. “Broadband access is critically important to Arkansas, providing greater access to telemedicine resources, expanding educational opportunities, and helping rural businesses grow. It has become essential for economic development and I am committed to doing everything I can to secure funding that enables Arkansans to be competitive in today’s global economy.”

 “High speed Internet is now a necessity rather than a luxury, but our state continues to lag behind in broadband deployment,” Pryor said. “As this Recovery Act program was developed and implemented, I worked closely with local interests and federal officials to ensure Arkansas would be well served.  Today’s announcement is a defining moment in our ongoing effort to expand broadband access throughout Arkansas, and these stimulus dollars will go a long way towards achieving this goal. I commend UAMS for its leadership.”

 “Broadband technology is enabling faster communication, productivity, and streamlining of valuable information, creating growth and development across all sectors of the economy,” Berry said. “These funds will give more Arkansans access to this powerful technology that will help improve our health care facilities, colleges and universities, while creating jobs in the process. The more we can embrace this technology in Arkansas, the better off we will be.”

 “Funding broadband technology for health care and education has a proven record of success,” Snyder said. “In fact at a recent House Veterans Affairs committee, Dr. Cattell-Gordon, the Director of Rural Network Development at the University of Virginia Health System, complimented Arkansas for ‘doing a fabulous job with reducing infant mortality by providing high-risk obstetrical care through our tele-health network.’ He said that ‘we have shown a 26 percent decrease in infant mortality in Arkansas because of this program.’ I am grateful Arkansas is receiving this funding and I applaud UAMS for their work in pushing for this expansion in our state. Using technology in this capacity not only provides more rural Arkansans with better access to care, but also provides more rural Arkansan students with the opportunity to get a medical education and help strengthen these professions especially now when there are shortages – a time when it is most needed.”

 “For every dollar we invest in broadband, the economy sees a ten-fold return on that investment,” Ross said. “Making broadband services available to all Arkansans will help provide greater accessibility to distance education programs and telemedicine, especially to those in rural areas.  Ultimately, increased access to broadband services will help our communities grow and remain competitive in this 21st century, global economy.”