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story.lead_photo.caption Westside Eagle Observer/SUSAN HOLLAND Cathy Foraker, AT&T director of external affairs (right), announces expanded high-speed Internet access to rural areas of Benton County. Ron Anderson, area manager for planning and engineering, displays an information board showing how the AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet system works. The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 6, in the parking lot at the Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church.

GRAVETTE -- Officials from AT&T gathered Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 6, in the parking lot at the Mt. Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church near Hiwasse to announce their deployment of new high-speed Internet service for rural Benton County and other counties throughout Arkansas. Cathy Foraker, director of external affairs for AT&T, made the announcement of the expanded access and explained it was part of the company's efforts to accommodate those in under-served areas. She said the Mount Pleasant location was chosen to show the type of areas where broadband access has been limited and which AT&T has committed to serve.

In August 2015, AT&T accepted about $427 million per year in Connect America Fund support over a 6-year period. As part of the FCC Connect America Fund commitment, these funds are being used for deploying, maintaining and offering Internet access and voice service in mostly rural FCC-identified census blocks located in AT&T's traditional exchange areas. The company began offering the service in September 2017, making it available to more than 26,000 homes and small businesses in Arkansas by year end.

For much of this rural deployment, AT&T is using its Fixed Wireless Internet connection with download speeds of at least 10 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 1 Mbps. The Fixed Wireless Internet is a service that uses a fixed-wireless "last mile" connection between the fiber at a cell tower and the customer premises to provide Internet access.

Gravette mayor Kurt Maddox and executive assistant Mallory Weaver, Senator Jim Hendren, Representative Kim Hendren, Benton County Communications director Channing Barker and several AT&T officials were present at the announcement. Mayor Maddox, Senator Hendren, Representative Hendren and Barker each spoke briefly and expressed their excitement about the new service possibilities and their appreciation to AT&T employees for their efforts to serve these formerly under-served customers.

"Having access to reliable high-speed Internet is a boon for our area," said Senator Hendren. "This investment will benefit both our residents and businesses."

"Internet connectivity is so important for our citizens," Mayor Maddox agreed. "Whether it's completing homework or doing business, high-speed Internet helps level the playing field for folks in our area."

Ron Anderson, AT&T area manager for planning and engineering, was present and displayed a signboard showing how the AT&T Fixed Wireless Internet works.

General News on 02/14/2018

Print Headline: AT&T announces expanded Internet access

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