Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the state has partnered with national nonprofit EducationSuperHighway to develop programs and implement best practices to address broadband affordability in the state.
A key component of the agreement will be developing statewide programs to overcome barriers that prevent households in the nation's most under-resourced communities from enrolling in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program. The broadband benefit program provides eligible households with a monthly discount of up to $30 per month and a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. More than 600,000 Arkansas households are eligible, but only 124,000 have enrolled.
EducationSuperHighway has launched new tools and resources to support statewide efforts, including www.getacp.org, a virtual mobile assistant that aims to simplify the enrollment process.
The nonprofit is coordinating efforts with the Arkansas State Broadband Office, housed within the Arkansas Department of Commerce, to plan, implement, and execute the awareness and engagement campaign.
“Affordable high-speed broadband is not a luxury in our high-tech society," Hutchinson said in a news release, "it is necessary for our students to remain at or above grade level in their education and for our businesses to compete in the global economy ... We must do everything we can to eliminate the digital divide, and we are committed to ensuring that Arkansans who are eligible for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program are aware of the program and are encouraged to apply."