UAMS Presents Broadband plans at Morrilton Community College

Sept. 14, 2011 | Plans for a federal project to provide increased Internet bandwidth to the state’s colleges and universities was outlined at the first of 22 two-year colleges that will receive the upgrade.


The University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton (UACCM) held a presentation Sept. 13 to detail its plans for the future connection to the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network (ARE-ON), which is a partner of the Arkansas e-Link project.

(From left) UACCM Chancellor Larry Davis; Arkansas e-Link Project Director Debbie Green; and Interim Director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education Shane Broadway at the event.


The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is leading Arkansas e-Link after receiving a $102 million federal grant to establish or upgrade broadband connections and equipment at 474 health care and education sites across the state. The 2010 grant, received through the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), is now known as Arkansas e-Link.


“What makes this grant so critical to Arkansas is that our state 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,” said  UAMS’ Debbie Green, project director of Arkansas e-Link. “Arkansas also ranks third-worst in the country for early deaths. So the need is obvious, and we’ll be able to vastly improve upon those statistics.”

(From left) B. Alan Sugg, Ph.D., U of A System president; Debbie Green, project director of Arkansas e-Link; Mike Abbiatti, executive director of ARE-ON; and UACCM Chancellor Larry Davis.


The project will allow UACCM and the state’s other higher-education sites to have the ability to deliver distance learning, provide new opportunities for sharing curriculum and other resources, and to increase the ability of two-year colleges to meet the training needs of businesses and industries in their communities.


Shane Broadway, interim director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education and a former state senator, said the program will revolutionize the state’s educational opportunities.


“This network raises the educational opportunities available statewide significantly,” Broadway said. “We all know that education has a direct effect on quality of life and economic development, and with these new and expanded opportunities all across Arkansas we can celebrate a brighter future in both of those regards.”


Arkansas e-Link is expected to raise broadband access substantially.


“Through Arkansas e-Link, we will have one of the most connected health care and education systems in the U.S.,” said B. Alan Sugg, Ph.D., University of Arkansas System president. “It has far-reaching implications to improve educational opportunities, increase access to health care, and enhance economic development. The Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network should serve as a role model for other states.”


Other key partners in the Arkansas e-Link project include the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges (AATYC), Arkansas Department of Health, Arkansas Department of Human Services, Baptist Health, Arkansas Hospital Association, Arkansas State Library and Community Health Centers of Arkansas.


“The Arkansas e-Link initiative is an excellent example of what happens when three critical higher education organizations – UAMS, AATYC and ARE-ON, join forces with a common vision,” said Mike Abbiatti, executive director of ARE-ON. “Arkansas e-Link is not about fiber infrastructure, it is about what we do with the infrastructure to improve health care and education for the citizens of Arkansas. It will be a factor in empowering the Natural State in changing its national perception from ‘poor me’ to ‘follow me.’”

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