LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Federal officials approved a new plan to improve the broadband infrastructure in Arkansas, especially for rural communities.

The United States Department of Treasury announced Tuesday the approval of $47.5 million funding for Arkansas broadband infrastructure. The approval was of a state-submitted plan to provide broadband to rural communities or those without adequate service.

The money is from the federal Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, put in place to address challenges which became visible during the pandemic, mainly in rural America.

“I appreciate the Treasury Department’s approval of this funding as we continue our work toward expanding broadband access in Arkansas,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “Ensuring access to high-speed internet presents a challenge in rural states, and this funding will provide us an opportunity to build on the work we’ve already done through the Arkansas Rural Connect Program.”

Estimates have the broadband improvement bringing or improving service to approximately 5,500 locations. It will provide internet connection of at least 100/20 Mbps with an emphasis on rural and disadvantaged locations.

Internet service providers funded by this program will participate in the FCC’s Affordably Connectivity Program, which has a $30 per month subsidy for low-income families.

The Tuesday announcement was part of a $408 million approval package. Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska and North Dakota also received broadband funding.