The heavyweight fight over delivery of broadband computer service continues.

Late last week, FASTERArkansas, the Walton-financed lobby group, began the TV advertising above for its push to repeal a limiting state law so that public school districts could hook into the existing computer network that serves Arkansas colleges and universities. 

And, in this corner, the telecom industry, which thinks it can provide necessary services to school districts very well, as it is already doing. It claims research shows Arkansas private industry is beating the cost of the state doing the work here 

Again note: Walton billions being put to work to argue that government can do a better job than private industry. Just don’t try this in the grocery sector.

The telecom interest group news release follows:

(LITTLE ROCK) – Recent studies performed on behalf of the Arkansas Governor’s Office and Arkansas General Assembly indicate Arkansas’s K-12 schools are saving 95.5 percent on their broadband purchases when dealing directly with private telecommunications providers.

On August 12, 2014, representatives from the EdcuationSuperHighway organization briefed lawmakers on their initial findings in Arkansas. The data, which is currently available on the Arkansas General Assembly’s website, concluded that schools purchasing broadband from the State of Arkansas averaged paying $286 per MBPS. The same data revealed when the state was not involved in the purchase, schools paid an average of $13 per MBPS when procuring services directly through a competitive bid process of private providers.

Last week, the Legislature’s consultant on educational adequacy, Picus Odden and Associates, repeated these numbers to members of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education and added that the national average in 2014 is $22 per MBPS, a number 40 percent higher than the average of Arkansas schools purchasing services directly from the private sector. This information is also available on the General Assembly’s website.

“There’s no question Arkansas schools save millions of dollars today when they purchase services directly from private providers,” said Jordan Johnson, Arkansas Broadband for Kids Coalition spokesperson. “It’s interesting some continue to advocate government playing even a larger role in broadband going forward when we have yet to fully research the issue.”

Arkansas’ broadband providers look forward to the additional legislative studies and will continue in their efforts to work with consultants from each of these organizations to evaluate and analyze the state’s perceived issues related to educational broadband.