KentuckyWired, a broadband project installing high-speed fiber optic cable in every county, has now completed over 1,000 miles of its planned 3,000-mile network, with 1,090 miles of fiber either on aerial poles or in underground conduit, and another 500 miles ready for fiber deployment in the coming weeks.
The head of the state agency overseeing the project says it is an important milestone. Phillip Brown, Executive Director of Kentucky Communications Network Authority said, “Obtaining the necessary pole attachment agreements to use over 70,000 utility poles owned by over 70 different entities was a slow process. Now, with all of those agreements finalized and make-ready construction increasing, the actual process of hanging fiber cable is picking up rapidly.”
The project is currently on track for completion in October 2020, with portions of the network activated before that scheduled completion date. Brown said, “We expect to activate the first portion of the network in the first half of 2019, well ahead of the current schedule.”
Although construction is taking place throughout the entire Commonwealth, the first portion to be completed will be the Cincinnati-Louisville-Lexington area because the major uplinks to the global internet are in Louisville and Cincinnati. Immediately afterward, the areas in Eastern Kentucky will be completed.
“Connectivity is at the core of our seven Regional Blueprint goals,” said Jared Arnett, Executive Director of Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR). “The implementation of the KentuckyWired middle-mile network will provide wide-spread access for disruption… It’s a critical cornerstone to last-mile build-outs that will allow our people to work and compete in a global and digital economy, and it will also allow entrepreneurs and small businesses to leverage technology and connectivity to expand existing markets and create new markets.”
Once the first portion, or “ring,” is complete KentuckyWired can begin saving the Commonwealth money by utilizing its own middle mile network rather paying private internet companies. KentuckyWired is also expected to generate millions of dollars by leasing half of its fiber to private companies. Those additional funds will also help pay for the construction and maintenance of the project.
The network will connect state government offices and institutions, state police posts, universities and community colleges. Almost anywhere along its route, companies will have the opportunity to connect and lease the network’s fiber.
KentuckyWired’s ultra-high speed fiber optic cable will bring an economic boost to the economy, attract businesses to Kentucky, bring in more jobs, enhance healthcare and education, facilitate better coordination among first responders, and enable internet service providers and cellular companies to bring service to more remote areas of the commonwealth.
The proof that connectivity is disruptive is evident across portions of Appalachia Kentucky. Teleworks USA, a program of the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program, Inc. (EKCEP), has placed more than 2,000 people in remote work opportunities through its network of eight hubs. In Jackson and Owsley counties, Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative’s investment in fiber to the home service has resulted in hundreds of new remote work opportunities, and millions in new wages into these communities.
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