Health care, ed to benefit from $102 million broadband grant
Spending from the grant will include:
• $28 million to construct fiber optic network routes to serve community colleges
• $22 million for telemedicine equipment for hospitals, clinics and home health sites
• $5 million for network equipment for community colleges
• $24 million for connectivity lease charges for participating sites
• $23 million for network infrastructure
The $102 million grant, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant program, was approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The grant will enable fiber connections and/or bandwidth upgrades in all 75 counties and in 135 Arkansas communities, including 81 hospitals, all two-year colleges in the state, eight public libraries, all state human-development centers, the state’s trauma network, community health centers, mental-health clinics and home-health agencies, according to a press release from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
UAMS was the recipient of the grant and will be working with partners across the state to create the changes. In addition to the $102 million grant, UAMS and its partners are providing a 20.6 percent match of $26,450,427. Key partners include the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network, Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges, Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Baptist Health, Arkansas Hospital Association, Arkansas State Library and Community Health Centers of Arkansas
“Arkansas is about to have one of the most connected health care systems in the nation,” said Rick Wade, senior advisor and deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Commerce, at the press conference. “This grant represents an investment that will pay dividends for generations, but there’s no dollar figure for the lives saved, the new educational opportunities and the overall quality-of-life benefits this will bring to the people of Arkansas.”
The broadband funding is the second-largest federal grant for an infrastructure project. West Virginia received a $126 million federal grant for broadband infrastructure.
- 50th in the percentage of households with a computer;
- 50th in percentage of households with Internet acces; and
- 46th in percentage of households with broadband access.
Arkansas also ranks third worst in the country for early deaths. Its public safety and emergency transportation system lacks interagency communication and the resources to enable a regional system of emergency care.
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