Beshear announces plan to expand statewide Internet access

Published 7:13 pm Monday, June 20, 2022

TOM LATEK

Kentucky Today

Gov. Andy Beshear on Monday announced more than $89 million in grants to expand broadband Internet access to unserved areas of Kentucky, which combined with matching funds from the award grantees, will total over $203 million.

“I believe this is the largest single provision of funding for high-speed Internet in the commonwealth’s history,” Beshear said during a Capitol press conference. “High-speed reliable Internet is not just the infrastructure of the future, it’s the necessary infrastructure right now.”

A total of 46 grants were awarded to 12 Internet service providers and local governments serving 36 Kentucky counties, and, according to the governor, will bring high-speed service to 34,000 families and businesses, which come from the American Rescue Plan Act approved by Congress, with more coming in the future.

“There is another $210 million in ARPA funds for these types of programs,” he said. “With the same match, that will create at least $420 million of additional investment coming down the line.”

State Budget director John Hicks said, “Our next round of the grant application process will incorporate the $210 million. Those plans will be consistent with these funds, which are dedicated to unserved areas of Kentucky.”

Hicks said as part of legislation enacted by the General Assembly, the state will establish an Office of Broadband Development. “This will help administer and create a master plan for Kentucky, to provide universal service to every Kentuckian through the federal dollars coming down, with more from the federal infrastructure bill, which will follow the funds in today’s announcement.”

“We are seizing on a once in a generation opportunity,” Beshear noted, “to take what was crumbling infrastructure in this country and in this Commonwealth; and make transformational investments that not only help our existing families here, but recruit so many other Americans to move to the Commonwealth of Kentucky with all of the incredible opportunity that is in front of us.”

He termed this a good day for Kentucky, one that marks monumental progress for the future of the commonwealth, adding, “We are closing the digital divide that has existed in this state for far too long.”