- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Sluggish Internet speeds are hurting Arkansas’ growing tech scene as broadband infrastructure across the state has been slow to evolve in the digital age.

A recent report from the online hosting company Akamai Technologies says Arkansas’ average peak connection speeds have ranked second-to-last in the U.S. for several years. National Telecommunications and Information Administration data also shows that the state ranks close to the bottom for percentage of population with access to Internet speeds greater than old-fashioned dial-up.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1qjRxJM ) reports that last year, Democratic state Rep. Warwick Sabin of Little Rock was appointed to lead an effort to provide universal broadband access to every Arkansas resident. He said the state needs to build infrastructure to support this or else the state’s tech scene will move elsewhere.

Matthew Young, founder of a software development and design startup company called Desk Agent, said slow Internet has been an issue since he entered Little Rock’s tech economy in 2011.

“It is a gigantic problem sometimes,” Young said. “We’re moving around large data sets, so it can be prohibitive.”

The offerings of telecom and cable goliaths like Comcast or AT&T; are barely cutting it. The majority of Arkansas is left with “yesterday’s broadband,” according to Tom Wheeler, Federal Communications Commission chairman.

Little Rock-based Web developer David Hudson has also had his share of difficulties with the cost-prohibitive and limited broadband access. Focused on dependability, he signed a two-year service contract with Comcast for his data-intensive service that uses cloud-based technologies.

“We said fine, because we had no other options,” Hudson said. “And that’s really the key here, there’s no choices.”

National Telecommunication numbers show that 21 percent of Arkansas residents have one option when purchasing wired Internet. Six percent of residents has more than two options, compared with a national average of 56 percent.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com


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