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The Bottom Line: Plan to close broadband access gap critical, group tells Beshear

By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line

FRANKFORT, Ky. — With many Kentuckians working and learning from home in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, a coalition of business, education, and non-profit organizations recently wrote to Gov. Andy Beshear to reinforce the importance of closing the digital divide across the state.

The letter, penned by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Kentucky Farm Bureau, Louisville Urban League, Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, and many other groups, points to the problems created by a lack of adequate internet access, including challenges working and learning remotely and accessing health care remotely.

“Our conversations with Kentucky internet providers and economic development leaders have shown that the problem is two-fold: the cost of adequate broadband is not affordable for many low-income families and access to broadband is not universally available, particularly in rural areas of the state. As we navigate this increasingly digital ‘new normal,’ closing the divide on this inequity is paramount to the future progress of our state,” the groups stated.

To address these issues, the coalition urged the governor to immediately establish a working group charged with developing a state plan ahead of the 2021 General Assembly to lay out a clear and actionable blueprint to ensure Kentuckians are able to work remotely, learn remotely, and access health care remotely.

Read the full letter here.