Arkansas Capital Corporation:Connect Arkansas Aims For Positive Link To Internet (Sponsored Report)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jul. 9, 2012 12:00 am  

One of the ways Connect Arkansas is showing high-speed Internet’s relevance is through the utilization of video and livestreaming.

While it may not be a parent’s worst nightmare, it was still a situation Kendon never expected to be faced with.

“The other day, my son asked me what a synonym was,” he said. “And for the life of me, I couldn’t remember. So we looked it up on the Internet right there, while he was doing his homework.”

Today’s children have never known a time without the Internet – it’s as intuitive to them as flipping the light switch is for previous generations of Arkansans. “For our kids, the Internet is easy,” C. Sam Walls, president of Connect Arkansas said. “They’ve grown up with it. They know how to navigate Facebook; they know how to send email.”

Surveys and focus group studies by Connect Arkansas this spring found that parents of today’s children believe their kids see the Internet as common as household appliances.

However, Walls said that Connect’s focus group efforts discovered that many adults struggle daily with allowing their children to even have Internet access in their homes because they fear what their children will “get into” on the Internet, or that they will lose control of what their children have access to because they themselves do not have a mastery of the Internet.

Thus, educating Arkansans about the Internet – the good and the bad, where access is available, and even basics such as how to use the Internet for everyday purposes – is the focus of Connect Arkansas’s efforts.

Connect Arkansas is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to the implementation of a community-based initiative to promote high-speed Internet service for all Arkansans. The Connect Arkansas Broadband Act was signed into law by Gov. Mike Beebe in 2007, to ensure the creation of a competitive high-speed internet infrastructure that will not only improve personal lives, but also the economic capabilities of all Arkansans.

So while Arkansas’s youngest generation sees the Internet as just another appliance, Walls said surveys conducted by Connect indicate that a majority of Arkansans – 56 percent in 2011 – view high-speed Internet as a luxury in relation to other utilities.

The first step in enhancing the economic capabilities of all Arkansans is to change the way they think about high-speed Internet, Walls said. “The Internet has been called ‘the most transformational technology since the advent of electricity.’ Yes, the Internet itself is revolutionary in nature, but what truly sets it apart is that it is merely the vehicle for change.”

The real change agent, he said, comes when Arkansans begin to truly realize the many uses of high-speed Internet and how it can enhance their daily lives. “The Internet transforms the way we educate our young people, the way we communicate, the way we can access healthcare, the way we search out jobs, the way we entertain our families and the way we seek out answers for any questions that might strike as at any time of the day or night,” Walls said.

Internet and Innovation

The end of World War II saw the rise of an industrial development age in Arkansas that was designed to move the economy of the state away from its agricultural roots and more toward a manufacturing base. And for two decades, that push paid off.



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