internet

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.”


Pixabay

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.”


Flickr/Creative Commons

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.”

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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.

Public Domain

City officials say there’s a large number of people without broadband internet access, but a potential Microsoft partnership could address it.

The contrast between people with internet access is called the digital divide, and the Brookings Institute found more than 200,000 Louisville residents live with low broadband subscription rates.

Raamel Mitchell, Microsoft’s director for citizenship, said the company will help by partnering with the city and with organizations like the Ali Center to provide programs and initiatives about digital connectivity.

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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.

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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.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Kentucky’s statewide broadband internet project, KentuckyWired, will be complete by mid-2019, according to Gov. Matt Bevin.

The $324 million public-private project is a collaboration between the state and private partners, who will operate and maintain the network for 30 years, charging the state about $28.5 million and up per year. After 30 years, Kentucky will own the network.

During a news conference Friday, Bevin said the project will help make Kentucky the “hub of excellence for America.”

“It cannot happen without broadband, it cannot happen without a strong technological infrastructure,” he said.

The project will stretch 3,000-miles of fiber optic cable to build out the “middle mile” of a statewide broadband network. Cities and businesses across the state will be in charge of building out the “last mile” to connect services to customers.

Benny Becker | Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky is working on a multimillion-dollar plan to bring broadband internet to the eastern part of the state, home to some of the country’s most impoverished places. A federal report released this year found that from around a third to nearly half of rural residents in Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia lack high-speed internet and the job opportunities that come with it. But a few areas are ahead of the curve. In Kentucky’s Jackson and Owsley Counties, broadband has already arrived and is already creating jobs.

With a population of 1,095, Annville, Kentucky is one of the bigger towns in Jackson County. It’s surrounded by grassy fields and rolling hills, which are the inspiration for the county’s tourism slogan: “Where the Mountains and the Bluegrass Blend.

It’s not easy to find a job in Jackson County. More than a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Most people who have jobs work outside the county. For Annville resident Alisha Tanfield, those long costly commutes made it hard to make ends meet. “After you pay gas, you’re not making anything,” she said.

If you’re barely getting by and your livelihood depends on a long commute, car troubles can create a major crisis. When Tanfield’s car broke down she lost what income she had and found herself struggling to provide for her two daughters. Then Tanfield heard about a friend who had found a work-from-home job through the Teleworks USA job board. Tanfield says she’d always been curious about work-from-home jobs but hadn’t tried applying for any because she thought a lot of them are scams.

Bevin Wants to Downsize Scope of KentuckyWired Project

Feb 6, 2016
Jacob Ryan, WFPL

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin wants to downsize a proposed 3,400-mile fiber optic network meant to make high-speed Internet possible throughout the state.

Bevin told the Saving Our Appalachian Region meeting Friday the project is off track. He said he still supports installing the network in eastern Kentucky.

A group of private businesses borrowed $289 million last year to begin constructing the network. Kentucky  government officials promised to pay the companies about $28 million a year for Internet service, which the companies would then use to pay off the loan.

But a key piece of how Kentucky  planned to pay back the loan has fallen apart. Bevin said Friday he wants to try and renegotiate with Macquarie Capital, the Australian-based investment company that is leading the project.

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