broadband

Flickr Creative Commons Christoph Scholz

The KentuckyWired broadband project continues to crawl towards completion, but officials estimate it won’t start generating revenue for the state until 2025.

Two segments of the statewide broadband project — in northern and southeastern Kentucky — have been completed and will soon be used to provide internet to state-owned buildings.

Construction on the network is set to be completed by late next year, though portions of it were originally scheduled to go live in 2016.


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The internet has been restored at all 172 of Kentucky’s school districts and the state Department of Education headquarters in Frankfort after a statewide outage.

At 11:50 a.m., the Kentucky Department of Education released a statement saying the outage has been resolve and internet service has been restored.

Service was interrupted across the state at about 6:00 a.m. Wednesday.

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The KentuckyWired broadband internet network has passed a major milestone, with data now flowing through a segment that connects the state’s most populous areas.

State officials announced Monday that government sites will soon begin using the network, which can also be leased to private companies to help offset the $1.5 billion taxpayers will ultimately have pay for it over the next 30 years.

 


Sydney Boles / Ohio Valley ReSource

In a conference hall in Pikeville, Kentucky, this September, Gov. Matt Bevin led an eager audience in a countdown. When the audience reached “One!,” a map on the screen behind the governor lit up with the promise of a high-tech future.

After years of delay and scandal, major portions of the commonwealth’s “middle mile” of high-speed internet were complete.

“There are so many negative haters, so many people who pooh-pooh things and say this can’t happen, it’s not possible,” Bevin told the crowd. “But I’ll tell you what. We’ve never quit.”


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Vivian Livingood is the mayor of Gilbert, a southern West Virginia town of under 500 people that has struggled for years without reliable internet. Livingood said that hampers Gilbert’s tourism, businesses and schools.

“We get kicked off the internet here every two minutes, and that’s if we can afford the internet,” Livingood said. “And it’s just pitiful service. It’s not fast.”


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The troubled Kentucky Wired broadband initiative received another public lashing on Thursday as state legislators weighed in on a scathing audit of the delayed and costly project.

Last month, State Auditor Mike Harmon released an examination that accused officials in former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration of botching the procurement of Kentucky Wired, placing too much financial risk on taxpayers and creating an unrealistic timeline for completion.

Becca Schimmel

U.S. Congressman Brett Guthrie wants to bring broadband access to more Kentuckians. He said it helps economic development as well as quality of life.

About 22 percent of Kentuckians don’t have access to broadband. One of the biggest challenges with providing reliable internet access to more people is building the infrastructure. Guthrie said better access to faster internet means connecting more people to flexible work and allowing companies to remain competitive.

 

“So even if you’re doing old school manufacturing it uses modern technology and you have to have it,” he told WKU Public Radio. “So if you have counties that just don’t have it overall they just can’t compete in terms of trying to attract businesses to put people to work and grow the county.”

Audit: Kentucky Was Warned About Broadband Contract

Sep 27, 2018
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In October 2015, state officials in Kentucky signed a contract to install 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable in an effort to bring high-speed internet access to all 120 counties. Today, the project is at least four years behind schedule because of persistent delays that have cost taxpayers a projected $96 million.

But a new report from Republican Auditor Mike Harmon says state officials were warned in writing at least three times about the problems before signing the contract, but ignored them. Harmon said he has sent the report to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission "for further review and possible action."

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Republican leaders of the state House of Representatives have asked a top official from former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration to answer questions about Kentucky Wired, a statewide broadband project that has racked up more than $180 million in costs associated with delays.

The Kentucky Wired project is supposed to provide high speed internet to all of Kentucky’s 120 counties with a 3,200 mile-long network of fiber optic cable.

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The leader of the Kentucky House of Representatives is calling for an investigation into the deal that created the Kentucky Wired high-speed internet project, a public-private partnership that has cost the state tens of millions of dollars in delays in recent years.

Kentucky Wired was first approved at the end of Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration and is supposed to result in a 3,000-mile fiber optic cable network that stretches to all of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

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Businesses that have invested in Kentucky’s delayed statewide broadband network are concerned that the budget passed by legislators earlier this week doesn’t provide enough certainty that the state will hold up its end of the public-private partnership.

Under the budget, which is currently being considered by Gov. Matt Bevin, KentuckyWired would be funded as a “necessary government expense,” meaning Bevin would have the choice to fund the project using money from the state’s rainy day fund or in the event of a budget surplus.

State officials say they have installed more than 600 miles of fiber optic cables as part of a planned 3,200 mile broadband network across Kentucky.

But the network still faces significant delays as the project piles up millions of dollars in penalties because of what leaders say was an unrealistic construction schedule.

Malcolm Wilson

Nearly half of the people living in rural parts of United States don’t have access to broadband internet, the high speed connection required for common uses many of us take for granted. Government and survey data show that in 65 counties across Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia, the majority of residents don’t have access to broadband--that’s one-quarter of all the counties in the three states. 

With the internet continuing to grow in importance for school, work, and for everyday life, many disconnected rural communities see their lack of internet access as an existential threat. Some communities hope that by banding together, communities can find ways to bring fast internet to places it’s never been.

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Construction of a statewide broadband internet network in Kentucky has begun, but the project has been delayed and doesn’t have an estimated launch date.

When the initiative was announced in 2015 — during the last year of Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration — officials promised portions in eastern Kentucky would be completed by April 2016.

Phillip Brown is the new executive director of the Kentucky Communications Network Authority, the agency that oversees the project. On Tuesday, he said it still wasn’t clear when the project would launch.