Kentucky awarded $1.2 billion for broadband expansion

Kentucky awarded $1.2 billion for broadband expansion

Broadband Expansion

Kentucky will receive over $1.2 billion in federal funding to expand high-speed internet access across the state. The Biden administration approved Kentucky’s proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, part of the “Internet for All” initiative. White House Deputy Chief of Staff Natalie Quillian, a native of Frankfort, Kentucky, announced the approval.

“We all know internet is no longer a luxury; it is an absolute necessity. Today is a great day for the people of Kentucky and the communities that have been left behind too long,” Quillian said. Governor Andy Beshear emphasized the transformative potential of affordable high-speed internet access for underserved communities.

Federal funds boost Kentucky internet access

“It’s a chance for everybody to chase their dreams,” he said, noting opportunities for residents to apply for jobs, seek higher education, access healthcare, and start businesses in rural areas. Progress has already been made in eastern Kentucky, with cities like Prestonsburg, Hazard, and Harlan offering free public Wi-Fi in parts of their downtown areas.

However, high poverty rates, low population density, and geographic isolation due to the mountains have been significant obstacles to high-speed internet access. Owen Wright, who works with the Christian Appalachian Project serving people in need, expressed optimism about the BEAD Program’s potential. “My hope is that this high-speed internet makes it to the hills and hollers to help some of the poorest people in the United States here in Appalachia,” he said.

The BEAD funding must be expended by the end of 2028. A low-cost option within the program suggests a $30-a-month plan, with flexibility for some internet providers to charge up to $65 a month.

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