Kentucky to receive nearly $1.1 billion in federal funding for broadband deployment

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(The Center Square) – Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Monday the state will receive more than $1 billion in federal funding to bolster its broadband internet infrastructure.

The funding comes from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, a $42.45 billion initiative in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The funding will be available to all 50 states and several U.S. territories. However, state officials last week cited outside forecasts that expected Kentucky to receive an award between $700 million and $1.3 billion.

On Monday, the governor said the decision represents a “historic day” for the state.

“Thanks to the support from the federal government, we are going to help connect every family, community and business to high-speed internet,” he said. “Never before have we seen this type of investment in high-speed internet, and with it comes new infrastructure, more good jobs for our families and a boost to our already booming economy.”

The funding is expected to help Kentucky provide high-speed internet to more than 258,000 unserved locations across the state.

During his weekly press briefing last Thursday, Beshear said state and local officials surveyed their regions to identify areas that need to be covered and challenged federal maps that incorrectly indicated service is available in their areas. Those efforts helped the state secure nearly $1.1 billion in this round of funding. With Monday’s announcement, the state has received more than $1.6 billion in federal dollars for broadband deployment since March 2021.

In speaking to reporters at last Thursday’s briefing, State Budget Director John Hicks said state workers are developing a map to show parts of the state where there is no internet access of any type, where residents have service slower than 25 megabit per second service (the rate considered to provide such basic services as high-definition video streaming), and where residents are underserved. Those regions will be eligible for funding to build out the necessary infrastructure.

“Our state Office of Broadband Deployment has been working hard to prepare the action plan to set us up to meet the (federal) deadlines,” Hicks said. “I know the governor will want us to access those funds as soon as possible, and so we’re working in that direction.”

Kentucky has already invested significant sums into expanding access. Last year, in two announcements, Beshear said the state would allocate nearly $410 million in investments to provide high-speed service to more than 34,000 families and businesses. That funding has gone to spur private companies to expand their infrastructure and reach customers whose current service included download speeds of 10 Mbps or slower.

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