The Pike County Judge’s office is asking that the public aid in garnering potential broadband funding.
Area residents are asked to go to speedtest.arkansas.gov and run the test, then complete a short survey before submitting the results to the state.
The purpose of the test, should enough people participate, is to prove or disprove internet quality numbers for the area on paper that have been submitted to the state by the current major provider, Windstream.
The survey information would be submitted to the Arkansas Governor’s Broadband Office.
Those current numbers state that the area is saturated with quality internet speeds and would not qualify for grant money as part of the upcoming decision making process. If enough of those results were collected showed a differing download and upload speeds in the area that what was on record, a case could then possibly be made for funding. However, without that information, no action at this time could be taken.
The Arkansas Department of Commerce had received $19.3M in CARES Act funds for broadband connection grants after an approval from the CARES Act Steering Committee and the Arkansas legislature under the goal of the program is to provide high-speed broadband to rural communities.
Final decisions on how that money will be disbursed will be made soon, according to Pike County Judge Dewight Mack, noting that if local residents were unhappy with their internet service quality, the biggest impact they could make is by submitting the test results.
“We want faster internet countywide,” said Mack. “I just want to encourage the citizens of the county to help out and complete the test.”
Besides for personal use, Mack Illustrated the need for quality internet options for such things as virtual education and health.
“It’s very important for Pike County, and I just can express that enough. We don’t want to leave any child behind, and internet service in the COVID era has become critical to local education, almost becoming a basic need,” Mack concluded.