Last June, we told you about Michael Horton, a tireless advocate for rural broadband. Horton lives with his wife in Snowball, in southwest Searcy County. The area is served by Windstream, but even with federal funding aimed at expanding rural broadband, the company says sending high speed internet services to small communities like Snowball is just too unprofitable of a venture.
Horton plans to speak to the Arkansas Broadband Council at their meeting tomorrow. In a letter addressed to the Council, he says:
Last fall when Windstream was awarded a $7.3 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture for rural broadband expansion in Arkansas, the company used federal recovery funding in areas of the state already served with broadband Internet from a competing ISP but provisioned no funding for infrastructural expansion in Searcy County.
Cox Communications notified the USDA regarding three of Windstream’s public notice filings for Arkansas, indicating that Cox already provided broadband service to Windstream’s proposed projects in Harrison, Elkins and Mulberry. Despite Cox Communication’s objections against public subsidization of its competition, Windstream was awarded funding for already served areas.
Rural broadband funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was intended to subsidize the connection of unserved communities with no access to a broadband network, such as those in Searcy County, not to serve as corporate welfare for a company with annual revenue of $4 billion.
Full letter on the jump.