Arkansas has its first ever statewide broadband manager. Nathan Smith will take over the role, he is also Research Director at the Arkansas Department of Commerce. He will serve in both roles at his existing salary and with existing resources.
Prior to joining the Department of Commerce, Smith ran education finance projects at the World Bank.
Smith will lead the Governor’s efforts to deploy high-speed broadband to all Arkansas communities with more than 500 residents by 2022, a goal announced in May of this year as part of the State’s Broadband Plan. Arkansas defines high-speed broadband as having a rate of 25 megabits per second for download and 3 megabits per second for upload.
Smith led the development of the State Broadband Plan, which is crafted with the goal of completing service expansion within four years. Arkansas Commerce Secretary Mike Preston called the plan “critical for the success of Arkansas’ growing economy.”
The plan relies on a combination of public and private funds to expand services throughout the state.
According to public records, contributors to the plan include:
-State agencies: Arkansas Department of Information Systems; Department of Health, and
Department of Transportation
-The University of Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service;
-The University of Arkansas System and the ARE-ON Network;
-Broadband service providers – AT&T, Cox, CenturyLink, and Windstream;
-Arkansas Electric Cooperatives;
-The Rural Electric Cooperative Association;
-Larry Frazier of Rural Arkansas Telecommunication Systems;
-Brent Skorup of the Mercatus Center;
-Elizabeth Bowles of Aristotle and the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee;
-Ted Thomas, Chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission;
-Cynthia Edwards, Deputy Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture