Beebe Said To Appoint Task Force 'FASTER Arkansas' With Plans for Broadband Expansion

You’ll likely hear an official announcement about this in the next few days, but you know Whispers doesn’t wait for official permission to report the news.

Last Wednesday, Gov. Mike Beebe met with scores of representatives — the number we heard was 70 — of Internet service providers, large and small, from all over the state. The subject: broadband access, or lack thereof.

It seems the Arkansas Department of Education has concluded that there’s not enough bandwidth in the state to implement “Common Core,” the educational standards being promoted by the National Governors Association.

The governor’s guests, we’re told reliably, are not persuaded that the deficiencies are nearly as dire as the Education Department suggests.

To address the situation, the governor has appointed a task force to be called FASTER Arkansas, and someone even matched the catchy acronym with some words: Fast Access for Students, Teachers & Economic Results.

FASTER Arkansas will be chaired by Jerry C. Jones, the chief legal officer at Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock, and it will be populated with heavy hitters. Names we heard: Walter Hussman, publisher of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; retired Tyson Foods executive Archie Schaffer; Ed Drilling, president of AT&T Arkansas; Jeff Gardner, CEO of Windstream Corp. of Little Rock; and Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.