After Delays, Boyd County, Ky., Readies itself for Kentucky Wired Broadband Project

The Kentucky Wired Project, slated for a 2020 completion, is designed to build a high-speed fiber-optic network connecting all 120 Kentucky counties.

by Andrew Adkins, The Daily Independent / April 23, 2018
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(TNS) — Construction crews will begin installing a fiber optic infrastructure in Boyd County, Ky., this summer as part of the long-discussed Kentucky Wired high-speed Internet project, according to a project liaison.

Holly Scoville, manager of government and resident relations for the project, laid out some details on how the statewide project impacts Boyd County in a presentation this month to the fiscal court.

The Kentucky Wired project is designed to build a high-speed fiber optic network connecting all 120 Kentucky counties. But it has been plagued by setbacks and delays since it was announced in 2015. As a result, the original cost estimate of $325 million has risen by millions.

Halting the project, which involves a public-private partnership, would cost taxpayers more than completing it since contracts exist and bonds have been sold.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed a bill on the final day of the legislative session this month to restore funding to Kentucky Wired for the next two years, allowing it to borrow up to $110 million to pay off costs for delays.

Scoville works with the design build contractors, Ledcor Group of Companies and Overland Contract Inc.

She said reasons for delays include the fact the state did not have any pole attachment or easement agreements when it signed the initial contract.

“It took seven months to get a pole attachment agreement with AT&T alone,” she said.

Scoville said 90 percent of the 3,400 mile-long project will involve using existing telecom and electricity poles.

The work about to take place in Boyd County is to install the fiber “backbone” infrastructure, said Scoville. It’s considered part of the project’s “Middle Mile” plan, and none of the upcoming work involves connecting fiber to homes or businesses.

Most of the underground work scheduled to take place in Boyd will be in the cities near government offices.

Scoville said some road closures may occur in the county, but not many are expected since most poles are out of the right-of-way.

Scoville held up a piece of fiber cable during her presentation. She explained the properties of the fiber, how it is comprised of glass inside its sheaths, and how the network will be able to transport data at lightning speeds.

She also stressed that the statewide project will simply open the door for communities to access fiber. Some Kentucky municipalities, like London where Scoville said she lives, have opted to buy fiber. The city is running fiber to its industrial park, and plans to expand into the city.

“Every community is doing it differently,” she said. “You may decide to do something. You may decide to do nothing. That is strictly up to you. But the opportunity will be there if you so choose.”

When the Kentucky Wired project first began, the state was considered among the worst in the nation in terms of broadband speeds. Scoville said once the project is completed, Kentucky is expected to be No. 4 in the nation.

Kentucky Wired work in Boyd County is estimated for completion in April of 2020, according to Scoville.

©2018 The Daily Independent (Ashland, Ky.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.