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    $102M for broadband going to UAMS

    6:33 PM, Aug 18, 2010   |    comments
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    Other facts, figures on this grant and Arkansas Broadband connections

    • Arkansas ranks 50th in the percentage of households with a computer, 50th in percentage of households with Internet access and 46th in percentage of households with broadband access. The state’s lack of sufficient broadband resources at community anchor institutions only further limits residents’ abilities to benefit from broadband.
    • 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.
    • The grant will enable fiber connections and/or bandwidth upgrades in all 75 counties and in 135 Arkansas communities, including 81 Arkansas hospitals, all two-year colleges (four-year colleges are already connected), eight public libraries, all state human development centers, the state’s trauma network, community health centers, mental health clinics and home health agencies..
    • The completed network has the potential for expansion to 3,926 additional community institutions. Those include 1,072 K-12 public schools, 29 charter schools, 305 private schools, 412 long-term care facilities, 758 provider clinics, 231 public libraries, 203 licensed ambulance services, 264 police departments, 575 fire departments and 77 offices of emergency management.
    • The vast majority of connections will be made by leasing more than 3,700 miles of existing broadband lines, while another 379 miles are slated for fiber network construction. Counting existing fiber lines, the broadband network totals more than 5,600 miles.
    • 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
    • Based on existing enrollment figures, the connections among the two-year colleges will benefit about 58,000 students and 50,000 work force trainees.
    • 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.

    Vice President Joe Biden, Wednesday, announced a multi-billion dollar investment, expanding broadband internet access - and creating jobs and economic opportunities in 37 states - including Arkansas.

    Read a list of projects impacting Arkansas here.

    "Where you live should not determine where you live or die," Dr. Curtis Lowery says. 

    Health care and congressional leaders joined the crowd Wednesday - as UAMS announced a $102 million grant for statewide broadband to benefit health care and education.

    Lowery is a key player in Arkansas getting this money.

    "Which is gonna revolutionize the education processes of these community colleges because now they're connected with fiber internet in a big way, and that means super computing and other things that they don't have access to," Lowery says.

    With the grant, the University of Arkansas system will enable medical specialists to provide care to rural areas using two-way interactive video, known as telemedicine.

    "This is a game changer for our state of Arkansas. We look at all the things we're trying to do to connect Arkansas and making sure that our opportunities exist in all parts of this great state," says U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln.

    UAMS Chancellor, Dr. Dan Rahn says the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network will manage the fiber construction and connectivity across the state.

    "It builds on existing research, education and health care that's been out there before -- we are the hub. This project is going to be implemented statewide in laying the necessary fiber to expand broadband access, all over the state. That will not be done by UAMS staff,"Rahn says.

    The project will directly connect 475 community health and educational institutions to broadband.

    "It's a wise investment, making broadband services available to rural arkansas will provide great accessibility to distance education programs and telemedicine," says U.S. Representative Mike Ross.

    These investments will help bridge the technological divide in communities in more rural areas of the state.

    "Geography should not determine your access to education, health care or economic opportunity. And this grant removes geography," adds Rahn.

    In addition to the $102 million grant, UAMS and its partners are providing a match totalling nearly $26.5 million. And as many as 1.32 million people and 61,000 businesses stand to benefit from the grant.

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