Through a partnership with the Commonwealth of Kentucky on the KentuckyWired project, The Center for Rural Development (The Center) and Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR) are making progress on addressing the digital divide for Eastern Kentucky.
The KentuckyWired project, an ambitious endeavor to bring high-speed, high-capacity middle-mile internet access to every county in Kentucky, will change the digital landscape of Eastern Kentucky. Once completed, no county will be without the ability to access the internet at speeds previously reserved for larger metropolitan areas.
Once these middle mile access points are available, our communities will then have the opportunity to build out from there. There are many ways to accomplish this “final-mile” build and each community will seek its own solution. It may be in working with existing local internet providers or encouraging formation of new ones if they don’t currently exist. It may also be that communities will want to build public fiber infrastructure to the homes and businesses. It may even take a mixture of creative partnering and planning to see that everyone is served.
The Center and SOAR have created the Last-Mile Action Team (LMAT) to help communities through this process. Through this partnership, and with the help of a talented and diverse team of individuals, we are providing technical assistance and are educating communities on virtually every aspect of developing internet access and adoption strategies.
The LMAT has created a series of daylong workshops that bring in experts from around the nation and throughout Kentucky to answer questions and provide advice. These workshops have been well attended and the participants have been very engaged in discussions ranging from technical acumen to financial and management strategies. The Center also offers one-on-one assistance and public awareness help.