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Saline County is working to improve citizens’ access to the internet



Saline, County, Arkansas – Everyone depends on the Internet on a daily basis.

Some people in Saline County miss having that privilege, whether it be to watch our favorite shows on our phones, stream them, or even work from home.

“It’s very important to me,” Daniel Swihart, a Saline County man with spotty internet, said.

Everyone prioritizes having access to the internet, whether they are working from home or simply browsing social media.

Some Saline County homeowners claim that their internet causes their screens to appear to be frozen.

“The internet is really spotty, there are times when internet is really good and really solid and there are times when I am assuming a lot of people are online and there just isn’t enough bandwidth to support it,” Larry Siener said.

Living in rural Saline County, according to Larry Siener, makes it difficult to obtain high-speed bandwidth.

“The only option I have from AT&T is 10 megabytes down, one megabyte up,” Siener said.

On the east side of the county, Daniel Swihart resides and claims to experience the same problem.

“I say I average probably about 12 and I mean it works but in this day in age you are at maybe one streaming device before you start seeing delays,” and “everything depends on quality high-speed internet,” Swihart said.

The BEAD (Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment) program receives over $1 billion in federal funding, and the Saline County broadband group was established to try and push for some of that money.

“It’s brought together business leaders, it’s brought together the schools, it’s brought together common citizens to look at this and say where do we need to focus on to compete well for the stand funds that are coming down,” Saline County Justice of the Peace Keith Keck said.

According to Keith Keck, the internet’s current state standard for download and upload speeds is 100/20.

They are attempting to ensure that money goes to them by looking at the county’s maps and identifying the “gray area” where people do not have access to the internet.

“It’s fantastic news if we actually get it, I mean at my current internet download speed if you doubled my download and upload speed, I would probably be doing handsprings down the middle of the street,” Siener stated.

“I think it’s great, I mean I want it to go through because everyone needs it, my mother lives 150 feet away from me and she has no internet,” Swihart said.

States currently have till the end of the year to submit financing requests before businesses receive subsidies to begin constructing that infrastructure.

As a result, the committee in Saline County is trying to identify the locations that need the money the most so that it can be distributed there.

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