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Arkansas Governor Taps State’s First-Ever Broadband Manager

Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that Nathan Smith, who helped craft the Arkansas State Broadband Plan, will lead the efforts to expand Internet access to communities with more than 500 residents by 2022.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the state’s first-ever broadband manager, who will lead the deployment of high-speed Internet to all communities with more than 500 residents by 2022.

The governor publicized his goal of extending broadband with speeds of 25 mbps for download and 3 mbps for upload in May as part of the Arkansas State Broadband Plan.

Nathan Smith, who currently serves as the research director for the Department of Commerce, will assume the broadband manager position July 24. The role was amended by Act 792, which will go into effect on Smith’s first day.

“In the course of helping develop the Arkansas State Broadband Plan, I enjoyed getting to know the issues and the players in the broadband space,” Smith said in a prepared statement. “I’ve gained an appreciation of its intricacy and importance. I look forward to working with colleagues in the executive branch and the private sector to pool expertise. The State Broadband Office will maintain objectivity and a commitment to the public interest as we face the decisions ahead.”

Increased access to high-speed broadband is one of several modernization initiatives that Hutchinson has implemented since he took office. On July 1, Hutchinson’s longtime cabinet shakeup shrank the number of agency heads reporting to him from 42 to 15.

“Access to high-speed broadband in our rural communities is critical to the long-term success of our state’s economy, and it will improve the quality of life for our citizens,” Hutchinson said in a press release. “Earlier this year, I asked Dr. Smith to lead the development of a broadband plan for Arkansas that would achieve that goal within the next four years. Dr. Smith’s leadership in that effort, as well as his knowledge and experience, make him the perfect fit to be the state’s first Broadband Manager.”

Patrick Groves was a staff writer for Government Technology from 2019 to 2020.
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