KentuckyWired will begin in Eastern Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 15, 2015) — Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, and Rep. Hal Rogers, a Republican who represents the 5th district, which includes some of the poorest counties in the nation, have been working together on their endeavor, Shaping Our Appalachian Region, to find ways to revitalize struggling economies in Eastern Kentucky. One effort to improve Kentucky’s economic opportunities is to connect the entire state to high-speed Internet. Beshear and Rogers co-wrote a letter about the effort, KentuckyWired.
Here is the letter:
Kentucky is embarking on one of the biggest infrastructure projects in more than 50 years — developing a robust, reliable, fiber ‘backbone’ infrastructure that will bring high-speed Internet connectivity to every county of the commonwealth.
The network, called KentuckyWired or the I-Way in Eastern Kentucky, will break down geographic and financial barriers to education and economic development by providing affordable, high-quality Internet service to connect Kentuckians to the world.
Because KentuckyWired is open access, local service providers can tie into the network at a reduced cost and build fiber to homes and businesses, making broadband service more affordable throughout the state.
As a result:
- Businesses will be more equipped to compete globally.
- Educators and students will have more access to better learning tools.
- Health-care entities will be able to collaborate and see patients and records in real time.
- First responders will be able to communicate better during emergencies.
- Cell phone coverage will improve throughout the state as the network provides better access.
- And consumer costs could be lower with improved broadband coverage.
KentuckyWired is starting in Eastern Kentucky and over the next three years will spread throughout the state.
As co-chairmen of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative, or SOAR, we understand that broadband, like electricity, water and sewer, is now an essential service. Until now, however, it has been too expensive for private carriers to build out a high-speed, high-capacity network across the entire state.
In fact, in a recent national report, Kentucky ranked dead last for broadband speeds. The gap is especially great in our more rural areas, since the urban areas of Kentucky have historically fared better and thus have had an advantage over those rural areas.
KentuckyWired will change that.
Kentucky has entered into a public-private partnership (P3) to finance, build, operate and maintain the network for 30 years. This partnership with Macquarie Capital allows the middle-mile project to begin sooner and be completed in three years, and it provides for maintenance and refresh of the network over the contract. The private partners have a target for hiring Kentuckians.
If Kentucky did not go with a P3 structure, it would take years, if not decades, to build out such a network. This project is too critical to our future to wait.
Since Kentucky state government already pays for Internet service for state entities, those funds will be transitioned to pay for broadband service over the KentuckyWired network. With this dedicated funding stream there is a stable financial foundation for the network to operate
With the extension of the Mountain Parkway and the build-out of KentuckyWired, eastern Kentucky will be on a more level playing field.
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 makes KentuckyWired one of the most important infrastructure projects for all of Kentucky.
This is a long-term asset that will pay dividends for years.