Kentucky’s Statewide Broadband Network Moves Forward with Build-out

KentuckyWired will consist of more than 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cable and more than 1,000 sites that will be connectivity points in communities.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers announced Sept. 16 that the initial build-out of the state’s broadband project, KentuckyWired, would take place soon in the eastern part of the state.

This was welcome news to those who viewed the lack of broadband in the state as an inhibitor to businesses starting in or migrating to the area. Kentucky has traditionally lagged on broadband availability with more than a third of rural residents lacking access to fixed advanced telecommunications.

“Connecting companies and Kentuckians with high-speed, high-capacity Internet will lead to new opportunities and business growth,” Bevin said in a statement. “This will be a tremendous tool in growing our local economies and developing our workforce. Our administration is fully committed to the KentuckyWired project, and we are excited at the possibilities before us as a result of its completion.”

The network will consist of more than 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cable and more than 1,000 government and post-secondary education sites that will be connectivity points in communities for local Internet service providers to tap into for last-mile service to customers.

Last week’s joint announcement quelled suspicions that the initiative was being scaled back to solely serve the eastern, rural region of the state.

The state-owned initiative was originally a composition of projects after several agencies requested funding for high-speed, high-capacity fiber networks. Then-Gov. Steve Beshear announced the initiative in December 2014, calling for connectivity in the modern age. Bevin plans to continue with the rollout.

Recently, the state authority overseeing the project entered into an agreement with Cincinnati Bell Telephone System (CBTS) and East Kentucky Network (EKN) to partner on broadband network construction. CBTS will install 166 miles of fiber-optic cable in the north/central region, while EKN will position 305 miles of fiber in the more rural east area.

The system is expected to be completed between March and June of 2019.

Ryan McCauley was a staff writer for Government Technology magazine from October 2016 through July 2017, and previously served as the publication's editorial assistant.