Arkansas BEAD Challenge Process Rule (Proposed)

BEAD Challenge Process Training Webinars

A few weeks ago, the Arkansas State Broadband Office (ARConnect) held training webinars on the BEAD Challenge Process for ISPs as well as local governments. You can find recordings of those webinars, and the slide deck used during the presentation, below. Feel free to share this resource with anyone looking for info about the Challenge Process! These training sessions are not exhaustive, but we believe they will be extremely valuable as we move through the process:

Arkansas’ Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan – 30-day Public Comment Period

Established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the Digital Equity Act (DEA) established three grant programs to promote digital opportunity. NTIA states that these programs “…aim to ensure that all people and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy.” The three grant programs include the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program, the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, and the State Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program.

As the next step in the process to access these funds, the Arkansas State Broadband Office (ARConnect) has developed Arkansas’ Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan (DSO). The DSO plan outlines the state’s vision for empowering Arkansans with the skills, technology, and capacity needed to self-determine success in the 21st-century digital economy. This draft proposal will be available for public review and comment, for a period of 30 days, through January 25, 2024.

ARConnect sought public review and comment on the draft proposal by all broadband stakeholders, including elected officials, nonprofits, business owners, and all interested residents through Thursday, January 25, 2024.

The link to the draft DSO plan: Arkansas’ Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan

BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 2

Established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program allocated more than $1 billion to the State of Arkansas for the construction and upgrade of broadband networks and to increase digital skills and opportunities among our state’s residents.

The Arkansas State Broadband Office (ARConnect) has developed Arkansas’ second volume of the BEAD Initial Proposal. This draft proposal was available for public review and comment, for a period of 30 days. Volume 2 of the BEAD Initial Proposal detailing how the state proposes to operate its broadband infrastructure grant program, requirements for potential sub-recipients, and nondeployment priorities, among other requirements. 

ARConnect sought public review and comment of the draft proposal by all broadband stakeholders.

The draft proposal and associated files (Prequalification Application, Subgrantee Selection Scoring Rubric, and Local Coordination Tracker) are available through these links.

Public comments were accepted through Thursday, December 14, 2023.

Document Links:

BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 1

Established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program allocated more than $1 billion to the State of Arkansas for the construction and upgrade of broadband networks and to increase digital skills and opportunities among our state’s residents.

The Arkansas State Broadband Office has developed Arkansas’ first volume the BEAD Initial Proposal. This draft proposal was available for public review and comment, for a period of 30 days. Volume 1 of the BEAD Initial Proposal details how the state will run its mapping challenge process for grant-eligible locations, among other requirements. Eligible challengers to the state’s forthcoming broadband map will include units of local government, nonprofit organizations, and internet service providers. 

The state broadband office sought public review and comment of the draft proposal by all broadband stakeholders. 

The draft proposal, and associated files (Existing Broadband Funding Sources, Unserved Locations, Underserved Locations, and Community Anchor Institution List) are available through these links.

Public comments were accepted through Saturday, November 18, 2023.

Document Links:

Draft Proposal

Existing Broadband Funding Sources

Unserved Locations

Underserved Locations

Community Anchor Institution List

Communities of Coal Hill/Hartman – 30-day Application Window Now Open (Application Deadline: Friday, October 6, 2023)

The Arkansas State Broadband Office is accepting broadband infrastructure deployment applications for the communities of Coal Hill and Hartman, Arkansas. This project will be awarded as one project encompassing both communities. Interested internet service providers (ISPs) should review the mandatory project footprint (Download shapefiles here.)

ISPs should review relevant Arkansas Rural Connect (ARC) Grant Program state rules and the application scoring rubric.

A completed application will include the submission of 1) a completed application scoring template, and 2) a completed application excel file, including any necessary files and attachments.

The deadline for ISPs to submit a completed application to the Arkansas State Broadband Office (via email) is Friday, October 6, 2023.

It should be noted that this project was previously awarded through the ARC program. As such, some work was done by the previous awardee, and inventory and equipment exist. It is expected that the winning applicant will absorb existing inventory and equipment from the prior project. Prior to application submission, it is advised that interested ISPs perform proper due diligence by conducting site visits to inspect prior work and view/inspect existing inventory and equipment.

For more information, and to request an inventory and equipment listing, please contact Lane Bailey, ARC Grant Program Manager, by phone at (501) 682-7384 or by email at Edward.Bailey@Arkansas.gov.

Arkansas’ Five-Year Action Plan

The Arkansas State Broadband Office (ARConnect) submitted the state’s Five-Year Action Plan to the U.S. Department of Commerce/National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on August 28, 2023. This plan provides a broad overview of how the state will eliminate the digital divide in Arkansas by 2028 and provides a foundation for Arkansas’ forthcoming BEAD Initial Proposal.

The Five-Year Action Plan provides an analysis of existing broadband assets and digital opportunity programming in the state, and how funding through the BEAD program can mitigate gaps that exist.

ARConnect invites you to read through the plan and learn more about Governor Sanders’ vision to eliminate the digital divide in Arkansas by 2028.

Read Arkansas’ Five-Year Action Plan. (Adobe PDF reader required)

Digital Skills and Opportunity Survey

Thank you to all Arkansans! 12,532 survey responses!

The Arkansas State Broadband Office would like to thank all Arkansans for their efforts in completing and helping to distribute Arkansas’ Digital Skills and Opportunity Survey. The state received 12,532 unique survey responses, and these results will directly impact the state’s planning for BEAD and Digital Opportunity, with results and analysis to come later this fall.

Together, from state government to nonprofits, philanthropies, private industry, and residents, we were able to rapidly empower local voices to have a say and impact the state’s planning process, a principle upon which our success in Arkansas will be dependent.

A special thank you to Heartland Forward and the members of the Arkansas Connectivity Coalition for their efforts in this process.

This type of unified, collaborative effort will continue to be needed as the state moves boldly forward with broadband infrastructure projects, fostering an environment of affordability for our residents, and enabling digital opportunity for all Arkansans.

ARConnect Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan Coming Fall 2023

BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 2 – Available for Review and Public Comment

Established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program allocated more than $1 billion to the State of Arkansas for the construction and upgrade of broadband networks and to increase digital skills and opportunities among our state’s residents.

The Arkansas State Broadband Office (ARConnect) has developed Arkansas’ second volume ofthe BEAD Initial Proposal. This draft proposal is now available for public review and comment, for a period of 30 days. Volume 2 of the BEAD Initial Proposal details how the state proposes to operate its broadband infrastructure grant program, requirements for potential subrecipients, and nondeployment priorities, among other requirements. 

ARConnect is seeking public review and comment of this draft proposal by all broadband stakeholders.

The draft proposal, associated files (Prequalification Application, Subgrantee Selection Scoring Rubric, and Local Coordination Tracker), and public comment form are available through these links.

Public comments will be accepted through Thursday, December 14, 2023.