Kentucky Wired

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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.

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.

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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.