CONNECT THE FUTURE KENTUCKY
OUR AGENDA: ACCELERATING BROADBAND CONNECTIVITY TO MORE KENTUCKIANS
Today, access to modern and reliable high-speed internet service is critical, yet nearly 300,000 Kentuckians remain without connectivity.
Our mission is plain and simple: create an environment that encourages investment in expanding broadband deployment throughout Kentucky.
WHAT’S HOLDING US BACK?
High-speed internet provides undeniable benefits. Yet, numerous barriers exist today that slow or prevent broadband deployment, especially in rural areas. About 82% of those without access to high-speed broadband live in rural areas. FCC data reveals that only 17 of Kentucky’s 120 counties are currently equipped with the infrastructure necessary to provide nearly all residents with high-speed internet connectivity. In addition, 18 counties in the Commonwealth have less than 75% broadband availability.
COVID-19 further highlighted the importance of access to high-speed internet for all Americans as it’s critical for distance learning, telehealth, and working from home. In fact, a recent study estimates that further expanding broadband access to connect all of Kentucky’s unserved homes and small businesses would generate a potential economic gain of up to $6.28 billion for the Commonwealth.
Utility poles play a critical role in expanding broadband access to unserved areas. Often times, broadband providers will need to attach to multiple utility poles in rural areas just to serve one home. This presents a major problem, as many of these old, wooden utility poles need to be upgraded or replaced to handle new broadband attachments. Every month of delayed broadband expansion due to this issue costs Kentucky between $9.29 million to $37.15 million in economic growth.
The Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) recently took positive action to help accelerate the process of attaching high-speed broadband lines to utility poles, but Kentucky needs to take additional steps to lessen the burdensome expenses associated with upgrading and replacing outdated poles.
The Kentucky General Assembly and Governor Beshear made great strides during the COVID-19 pandemic by acknowledging existing gaps in broadband access and initiating action to address this important problem. That included the creation a new $20 million Rural Infrastructure Improvement Fund aimed at attracting greater infrastructure investment while maximizing Kentucky taxpayer dollars.
The new pole replacement fund will help expand connectivity to high-speed internet in unserved areas by equipping the Commonwealth with modern utility poles capable of efficiently accommodating new attachments. Now, state leaders must implement the pole fund and set out clear guidance to ensure broadband providers, pole owners, and other stakeholders can swiftly connect unserved Kentucky communities. The new law establishing this program took effect immediately, and now the new state broadband office must work swiftly to establish procedural rules to facilitate applications for funding as soon as possible.
Universal high-speed broadband access for Kentucky is within reach, and quickly and effectively implementing the new Rural Infrastructure Improvement Fund will help bring faster access to more people and empower more Kentuckians to take advantage of opportunities available in the 21st-century digital economy.
OUR COALITION SUPPORTERS
Internet Access Matters.
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Join Connect The Future Kentucky
Do you want to connect more Kentuckians to the future? Do you want to strengthen our economy, expand opportunity, and usher in a better future for our commonwealth and our country?
If so, we want you to stand with us. The more leaders who get involved, the more we will accomplish, and the more good we’ll do for Kentuckians and the Commonwealth.