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Officials seek to make high speed broadband available statewide

Kentucky ranks 46th in high-speed availability

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 14, 2014) — Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced that two requests for proposals are being issued this month on a public-private partnership project to build critically-needed high-speed broadband Internet access to the farthest reaches of the commonwealth.

Increasing broadband access in Eastern Kentucky is a primary focus of the project.

broadbandThe proposals, released in conjunction with the Center for Rural Development, seek private partners to build, operate and maintain a statewide open-access, high-speed broadband network.

The Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway will help Kentucky make tremendous strides toward being a leader both in terms of speed and presence of high-speed Internet connectivity, Gov. Beshear said.

“Infrastructure such as roads, sewers, water lines and classrooms are critical to our quality of life and economic vitality,” Gov. Beshear said. “Today, we also have to invest in another kind of infrastructure – the kind that will break down geographic and financial barriers to education and economic development.”

The initial phase of the project is expected to take two years to build and will include more than 3,000 miles of fiber infrastructure, often referred to as the “middle mile.”

Currently, Kentucky ranks 46th in high-speed broadband Internet availability. Nearly a quarter of the Commonwealth’s population — 23 percent — has no access to broadband.

The push for reliable, accessible high-speed broadband is one recommendation that emerged from “SOAR,” the “Shaping Our Appalachian Region” initiative that seeks to move Kentucky’s Appalachian region forward.