Goal is to connect entire state to high-speed Internet
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Gov. Steve Beshear signed an executive order creating the Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA) and its governing board to manage the KentuckyWired open-access broadband network.
The project will create high-speed Internet connectivity to every corner of the commonwealth to enhance economic development and workforce and educational opportunities while sustaining Kentucky’s economy for generations to come.
“Broadband, like electricity, water and sewer, is now an essential service but has been too expensive for private carriers to build out a high-speed, high-capacity network across the entire state,” Beshear said. “With KentuckyWired, or the I-Way, an open-access network, the state will be responsible for building out the middle portion of a fiber network, similar to our interstate system of roads.”
Over the next two to three years, more than 3,000 miles of fiber infrastructure, often referred to as the “middle mile,” will be built.
Members of the authority will manage the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway line-item capital project and the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway Fund, both authorized by House Bill 235 in the 2014 General Assembly. The total project is projected to cost approximately $324 million. The project consists of $30 million in state bond funds and $23.5 million in Federal Funds. The remainder of the project, $270.9 million, will be funded with private investment.
Beshear said his administration is taking the proper administrative steps to create a distinct and dedicated management team for the project to work with private sector partners and local communities to bring high-speed, high-capacity Internet closer to communities throughout the state.
The authority will be a part of the General Government Cabinet and attached to the Office of the Governor. The authority will be responsible for overseeing the public-private-partnership (P3) master agreement with consortium partners –
Macquarie Infrastructure Developments, LLC, Ledcor US Venture Inc., and First Solutions LLC – providing network connectivity to public agencies statewide, providing open network access to entities to use excess capacity, and conducting outreach and education programs.
The governing board for KCNA will consist of:
- The secretary of the Governor’s Executive Cabinet, or designee;
- The state budget director, or designee;
- The executive director of the Public Service Commission, or designee;
- The chief information officer, or designee; and
- The chief executive officer of The Center for Rural Development, or designee.
“In nearly every ranking of broadband capacity and adoption, Kentucky ranks at or near the bottom,” Beshear said. “The potential to tap into the global economy, compete for higher paying jobs, collaborate with researchers across the globe, take classes online, or access increased medical care make KentuckyWired one of the most important infrastructure projects for all of Kentucky.”
Construction of the network will begin in Eastern Kentucky. A kickoff event is scheduled for Aug. 31 at Hazard Community and Technical College with Beshear and Rep. Hal Rogers.
Beshear and Rogers created the Shaping Our Appalachian Region or (SOAR) initiative in 2013. The two major infrastructure improvements of SOAR are the four-laning of the Mountain Parkway and the construction of a statewide broadband network.
Eastern Kentucky will be the first priority region for the broadband project.
“Broadband is as important to our progress today as interstate highways were 60 years ago,” Rogers said. “It’s essential to economic growth and prosperity in eastern Kentucky.”
With this project, the commonwealth is not catching up to other states or countries, “rather we are leapfrogging ahead and will be recognized as the leader in connecting our citizens and businesses to the world at the fastest speeds possible,” Beshear said.