A special committee is meeting in the Kentucky statehouse to focus on expanding broadband statewide. The inaugural meeting of the House Special Committee on Advanced Communications and Information Technology was held late last week and discussed the first phase of Kentucky’s broadband expansion plan – KentuckyWired.
KentuckyWired is a statewide broadband expansion plan that aims to go forward without any additional cost to local taxpayers. Instead, the state is seeking capital and construction from private providers and requiring them to assume the risks of the project.
To do this, Kentucky has partnered with Macquarie Capital, an Australian investment bank, which will design and oversee the project for the next 30 years. The network is projected to cost some $350 million.
Kentucky currently ranks 47th in broadband access nationally. Some 23 percent of rural Kentuckians have no access to the internet at all.
The first phase of construction is slated to begin in a few weeks in Eastern Kentucky. The Center for Rural Development in Somerset will partner with the Commonwealth, focusing on communities east of Interstate 75. Work is expected to be complete by April of 2016, with the next phase of the overall expansion project slated to begin later in 2016.
KentuckyWired will create a statewide middle mile network, with last mile service provided by private companies. Last mile service brings subscription internet to homes and businesses.