Arkansas is well down the internet service rankings, with an average download speed of 3.1 mbps in 2009 putting it 45th. Around half of users reported average speeds of below the basic broadband level of 768 kbps from their ISP. The state ranks 49th in terms of telecommunications structure and 47th for people online, with a 2007 survey showing 29% of residents had never used the internet and 51% had no broadband service.
There is some progress, with Southwestern Bell Telephone Co. and American Communication Services Inc. having laid fiber optic cable in Little Rock many years ago, although Verizon has no plans for the state. High speed internet is available though various DSL internet providers. However, as is often the case, the availability of broadband internet services is generally confined to large centers of population and rural communities are less well served. Wireless internet access is also concentrated on urban areas, with large parts of the state having no wifi service at all.
Many rural areas in particular are looking to get part of the $7.2 billion federal stimulus funding to improve the service. The Arkansas Opportunity Online Broadband Summit is a partnership that aims to improve bandwidth in the state's public libraries, enabling people with no internet provider to have an adequate service.
With a subtropical climate, Arkansas has hot, humid summers and mild but drier winters, with occasional extreme weather and tornadoes being not uncommon. The Mississippi river forms most of the eastern border and agriculture, industry and tourism are important to the state's economy. It has enjoyed an economic boom since the 1970s and has several global companies headquartered in the state, including Wal-Mart -- the world's largest public corporation by revenue. Little Rock is the state capital and also the largest city, followed by Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Springdale. The state had a population of 2,855,390 in 2008.
Cities in Arkansas likely to have, or soon to receive, fiber optic cable internet services include Little Rock, Fort Smith & Fayetteville. Locations in AR with highest population counts will be targeted first by providers, though relatively high speeds can be achieved with dial-up or DSL through companies such as Netzero and Charter Communications Cable.