Magazine begins internet expansion

Alex Gladden
Paris Express
Patriot Underground workers use high-pressure water to locate utility lines.

The Magazine Telephone Company broke ground on its project to upgrade the city's Wi-Fi this month. 

The state allotted the company $1,025,692 to improve Magazine residents' access to the internet. 

The state will cover 80% of the grant, and the Magazine Telephone Company will pay the other 20%, said Denny Stone, a representative of the company. 

The state has dedicated $119 million for grants, where $114 million is available from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act, and $4.7 million is available from state funds, according to the Department of Commerce's website. 

Magazine's funding comes from the state. 

The Magazine Telephone Company is using the money to create a fiber line to disperse the Wi-Fi, Stone said. 

The fiber system works by creating a physical line that contains pieces of glass. Pulses of light travel down the line to create the connection, said Joseph Sanford, the director of the Institute for Digital Health and Innovation at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. 

Patriot Underground is doing the work to put the fiber system in at Magazine. So far Patriot Underground has been using high-pressure water to locate utility lines under the ground to avoid causing damage to the lines, Stone said. 

Workers have also been laying the duct, an orange tube that acts as protection for the fiber. They will later run the fiber through the duct. 

Stone said he expects construction to be completed by the end of July, depending on the weather. 

All Magazine residents will be able to access the new system if they choose. Magazine Telephone Company will add its existing customers over to the fiber system and then will begin adding new customers. 

“Yeah, we’re proud of this project. It’s been a long time coming," Stone said. 

Having reliable Wi-Fi is important for people during the pandemic, Sanford said. 

The new system will allow Magazine residents to better work and do school from home. It will also allow area doctors to use telemedicine, Stone said. 

The internet upgrade permits Arkansans in rural areas to live in their area and do their work, Sanford said. 

"People like living in the country for a reason," Sanford said. 

It will also let Arkansans compete in the business sector. 

“Broadband at these speeds will level the playing field as we compete on a global scale,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson wrote in his weekly address. 

To conduct modern-day business, people need high upload and download speeds, Sanford said. 

Download speeds are how fast people can pull data from a site, while upload speeds are how quickly people can upload to a server, Sanford said. 

Sanford's group reviews applications for the Department of Commerce and recommends cities to receive the grants. The group members then monitor the projects once they've been approved. 

To date, the program has made awards to 75 different cities, totaling $118,468,122.65, according to the Department of Commerce's website. 

None of the projects are completed yet, Sanford said. But they will not take more than a year to finish.