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  • Alexis Padilla, Northeast Arkansas News

Craighead Electric Begins High Speed Internet Construction

Working from home is a luxury some people love. For Collin Houseal, it is sometimes a struggle because DSL is his only internet option.

Houseal lives in Smithville where he works with clients from across the US for his design company. But, slow internet makes it hard.

“I deal with large files every day and right now one gigabyte file transfers take hours sometimes overnight,” said Houseal.

Craighead Electric Cooperative is investing nearly 110 million dollars to fix that.

They are launching a subsidiary called Empower.

Empower is going to bring hi-speed broadband internet to cities like Paragould, Walnut Ridge, Black Rock, Smithville and more.

“It’s an obvious need. We analyzed the broadband availability in over service territory and roughly 50% of our members lack access to broadband," said Jeremiah Sloan, Manager of Fiber Assets for Craighead Electric Coop.

This is a seven-year project that is being split into 3 phases. Crew workers are already adding the fiber-optic cables in Paragould for phase one.

Houseal says once the fiber optic cables reach his city it will drastically change their service.

“Our current service tops out at about 4 megabits on a good day. Empower is offering us 1 gigabyte. To put that in more familiar terms imagine going down the road at 4mph and then accelerating to 1000 mph that’s how big a difference it’s going to make.”

Houseal says it will not only open doors for his job, but also his home schooled kids’ education and the economic growth of the region.

“I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that this going to have as much significant impact on the area as it did when Craighead Electric first brought electricity to the area 80 years ago.”

To learn more about Empower or see if it will affect where you live, you can go online to


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