Diamond State Networks, a coalition of 13 Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, is the state’s newest wholesale broadband service provider with the goal of providing high-speed Internet access to 1.25 million rural Arkansas.
Jonesboro Alliance It is co-managed by Mitchell Johnson, President and CEO of Ozarks Electric, and Jeremiah Sloan, President and CEO of Craighead Electric. The board of directors includes executives from 13 partner cooperatives or subsidiary fiber networks. Diamond State’s network will cover more than 64% of Arkansas with more than 50,000 miles of fiber.
Together, the 13 electricity cooperatives have invested, or are planning to invest, more than $1.66 billion in broadband communications infrastructure, exclusively in fiber-optic networks. With a focus on reliability, quality, and sustainability, the network will serve nearly 600,000 potential customer locations, and will have an enormous positive impact on the state’s economy by helping make Arkansas a place people want to live and do business for years to come,” a statement from the network noted.
Connecting collaborative broadband networks, Johnson said, will provide affordable high-speed Internet access “to every corner of our state.”
Ultimately, it will provide local ISPs with better access and ability to deliver their services, and better opportunities to serve businesses directly with a reliable connection wherever they are. “We are making access to more areas with best-in-class technology accessible to everyone to bridge the gaps from previous restrictions,” Johnson said.
Diamond State’s expansion should help reach Arkansas families without access to high-speed broadband. recent report He said from the Broadband Development Group (BDG) that the state has 210,000 households that lack broadband services, but 100,000 of them are handled through state and federal programs. Using federal funding, the remaining 110,000 families could be reached at a cost of up to $550 million.
The report says 110,000 families are not being treated through any federal programs, and up to $550 million would be needed to reach them. This money could come from the US bailout bill, infrastructure investment programs and the Jobs Act. Of those, 100,000 households with between $254 million and $358 million could be reached within three years.
The report said the last 10,000 households, many of them in the most densely populated rural area of Arkansas, would require more than $200 million, or about $20,000 per household.
Below are the collaborating partner entities that will be part of the Diamond States Network.
Headquartered in Fayetteville, OzarksGo is a telecommunications subsidiary of the Ozarks Electric Cooperative, providing all-fiber Internet and premium TV and phone services to northwest Arkansas and northeastern Oklahoma.
• Clay County Connect
Headquartered in Corning, the partner is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clay County Electric Cooperative Corporation (CCECC), serving members in Clay, Randolph, and Greene counties.
• Electric Farmers Cooperative
Headquartered in Newport, the network serves members in Independence, Jackson, and Poinsett Woodruff counties.
• Betty Jane Viper
Petit Jean, headquartered in Clinton, is a subsidiary of Petit Jean Electric Cooperative, serving members in central Arkansas.
• Illumination by Woodruff Electric
Headquartered in Forest, the partner is a subsidiary of Woodruff Electric Cooperative, serving parts of Woodruff, Prairie, Monroe, Cross, St. Francis, Lee, and Phillips in eastern Arkansas.
• NEXT powered by NAEC
Headquartered in Salem, NEXT is a North Arkansas Electric Cooperative that provides broadband Internet, telephone, and television services to members in eight northern Arkansas counties.
• Wave Rural Connect
Headquartered in Ozark, Wave is a subsidiary of Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative, serving members in parts of the Fort Smith metro and to parts of eastern Oklahoma.
• Arkansas Fiber Network (AFN)
AFN is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, a statewide association of 17 electric distribution cooperatives in Arkansas. AFN was formed to provide medium fiber to support the broadband efforts of the distribution cooperatives, as well as those of Diamond State Networks.
• Four countries for fiber-optic internet
Headquartered in Texarkana, Partner is a subsidiary of Southwest Arkansas Electric Cooperative, offering high-speed Internet to members in Miller, Howard, Sevier, Columbia, Lafayette, Hempstead, Little River and Polk counties in Arkansas; Bowie and Cass counties in Texas; and McCurtain County, Oklahoma.
• Empowerment, provided by Craighead Electric
Headquartered in Jonesboro, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Craighead Electric Cooperative Corporation, serving customers throughout Northeastern Arkansas.
• MCEC . fibers
Headquartered in Blytheville, MCEC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mississippi County Electric Cooperative, serving members in northern Mississippi County, Arkansas.
• South Central Connect
Headquartered in Arkadelphia, the partner is a subsidiary of South Central Arkansas Electric Cooperative, serving members in Clark, Hot Spring, Pike, Montgomery, and Nevada counties.
Headquartered in Jacksonville, Partner is a wholly owned subsidiary of First Electric, serving members throughout Central and Southeast Arkansas.
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