AT&T Announces Internet Expansion Plans for Rural Kentucky

AT&T will use existing fiber connections and additional cellular towers to expand Internet service across 51 counties in the state.

by Jacob Dick, Messenger-Inquirer / August 2, 2018

(TNS) — AT&T announced plans Thursday for expansion of rural Internet service across 51 Kentucky counties, including Daviess County.

During a conference at the Greater Owensboro Chamber of Commerce, AT&T Kentucky President Hood Harris said the company planned on using AT&T’s existing fiber connections and additional cellular towers to deliver increased access with fixed antennas by 2020.

“There is middle-mile fiber out there, folks,” Harris said. “The challenge is getting that last mile connection to people’s doors, especially in rural areas. The answer to that challenge is often technology.”

Harris presented one of AT&T’s fixed-wireless antennas, a relatively thin grey box that is attached to homes in order to receive and send wireless signals to and from cell sites connected to AT&T’s network by fiber optics. He also noted the company would reserve parts of its cellular spectrum specifically for fixed-wireless so customers don’t have to worry about competing with phone users.

AT&T’s plans are a part of its commitment with the FCC Connect America Fund, a program under the Federal Communications Commission that offers incentivizing subsidies to communication companies for expanding service to select rural areas.

Harris said an estimated 84,000 additional locations would have access to high-speed Internet by the end of 2020.

AT&T is offering $50 packages for fixed wireless Internet with 10 mbps download speeds and 1 mbps upload speeds. The package has a 170gb per month cap on data usage.

Kentucky has some gaps in providing broadband Internet, a resource economic researchers often point to as an essential ingredient for boosting local economies. Looking at the entire population of the state, 7 percent of people don't have any access to broadband Internet, and almost 93 percent have access from only one provider.

In Daviess County, 10.7 percent of the county doesn't have access to broadband, and 89 percent have access from only one provider, but the county stands as an oasis of broadband compared to neighboring areas. In Ohio County and Hancock County, 55 percent and 81 percent of people, respectively, have no access to broadband.

©2018 the Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Ky.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.