IT Firms See Hope in Stimulus

by Jamie Walden  on Monday, Feb. 16, 2009 12:00 am  

Bowles said expanding into areas that have insufficient or no Internet access is already part of the company's business plan. This week Aristotle is scheduled to bring online East End, a mostly unserved area south of Mabelvale.

Bowles said that, as a wireless broadband provider, Aristotle can expand into certain areas cheaper than a wireline provider because it doesn't have the costs associated with digging and laying fiber optic cabling to each house. Areas that are either too rural or just not economically feasible for some wireline ISPs to cover may not be for Aristotle.

"There is a reason unserved and underserved areas are currently underserved," Bowles said. "And the grants need to help get around that because it is absolutely critical.

"Broadband is critical infrastructure. It is as critical as roads. It's as critical as electricity. We have got to get broadband to every single household and every single business in the state of Arkansas; one way or the other, that has to happen. And the stimulus package could go a long way to helping that happen."

Whatever broadband budget lawmakers decide on – whether $6 billion or $7 billion or some other number – one thing is certain: The broadband budget in the economic stimulus bill "by no means is anywhere near enough of an investment to solve this issue in the country," said C. Sam Walls, CEO of Arkansas Capital Corp. Group. "It's just a down payment."    



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