Bell Spends Bucks to Cover Bentonville.
Dave Baldridge, a spokesman' for Bell, said the Bentonville/Rogers area is growing fast, and the company is simply trying to meet the demands for service.
Bell serves about one million phone access lines statewide. It has two central offices each in Benton and Washington counties that serve 15,578 and 23,500 customer locations, respectively.
"We're providing access lines, cabling, other support mechanisms and neighborhood broadband gateways to keep people connected," Baldridge said. "Bentonville is a significant area for both business and residential growth, and we want to make sure that our services are sufficiently supported there."
Baldridge said the neighborhood broadband gateways extend dedicated subscriber line service from central offices like spokes on a wheel. It enables the company to offer DSL farther out into communities.
Bell has 13 NBGs that serve 4,553 customers in Benton County and 14 NBGs that serve 8,815 customers in Washington County. In the next 12 months, the company predicts it will have 12 NBGs serving 11,795 people in Benton County and 40 serving 20,622 in Washington County.
Bell's investment included $512,000 to establish additional access lines, $437,000 to deploy fiber farther out from its central office in downtown Bentonville and $796,000 to improve its central office building. Another $359,000 went for software and hardware that will enhance the central office's capabilities. The investments include the high-speed telecommunications network architecture that Bell believes will be used for the next 10 to 20 years.
The firm is a subsidiary of SBC Communications Inc. of San Antonio, Texas, which boasts 60.6 million access lines nationally and has a 60 percent equity stake in Cingular Wireless.