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Kentucky Plans to Build An Open-Access Broadband Network in Every County

The Commonwealth of Kentucky

Kentucky

Disadvantaged by a lack of broadband infrastructure, Kentucky was determined to build its own middle mile network. Through its KentuckyWired project, the commonwealth aims to stimulate economic development by being the first in the nation to build an open-access broadband network in every county.

Topics Covered

Digital Divide
Energy Disruptions

Funding

General Fund/Existing Public Funds

Public Private Partnership

Project Status

In Progress/Under Construction since 2015

Problem Addressed

Kentucky sought to enhance the efficiency of public services and agencies within the commonwealth by expanding its limited broadband infrastructure and building a broadband network in every county.

High-speed internet access has become a necessity in this digital age. It breaks down geographic and financial barriers by opening access to the world.

Across Kentucky, a lack of broadband infrastructure has put the commonwealth at a major disadvantage for attracting and growing new job and education opportunities. Compared to all other U.S. states, Kentucky ranked 47th in broadband speeds and capacity.

Beyond lack of access for residents, reliable internet connectivity is unavailable even for state institutions like government offices, universities, and state police posts. The high cost of construction across the state’s rural and mountainous landscape has hindered private carriers from building out a high-speed network. The lack of access, combined with the essential need for broadband connectivity, has led the commonwealth to pay private carriers to lease lines or provide its agencies with internet service.

After paying $27.2 million per year for its agencies to have internet service, Kentucky determined that it would save millions by instead building and owning its own middle mile network that could support broadband connectivity across the commonwealth.

With this plan, Kentucky aspired to be the first commonwealth in the nation to build an open-access broadband network in every county.

Solutions Used

The new middle-mile network, the KentuckyWired Middle project, will consist of more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable and will connect approximately 1,100 government and public facilities.

Construction on the KetuckyWired Middle project began in 2015, with the aim of enhancing public services and increasing statewide broadband access.

Formulated by Kentucky as a public-private partnership (P3), construction of the $275 million network is being performed by Ledcor and Black & Veatch, through its Overland Contracting subsidiary. Overland Contracting led the engineering design and procurement efforts, performing construction management, quality assurance, and safety work in conjunction with Ledcor.

KentuckyWired will position Kentucky as a national leader in high-capacity internet service connections, promoting competition for broadband which will lower costs for businesses and citizens. The resulting broadband infrastructure will promote economic development, enhance education and research capabilities, and ensure public safety.

This new network will consist of more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable, crossing all 120 Kentucky counties and connecting approximately 1,100 government and public facilities. While the commonwealth will not be building the fiber optic lines that run to individual homes or businesses, it will provide “open access” to private companies allowing Internet Service Providers to bring faster, more reliable internet to residents in every corner of the commonwealth.

The project is being funded through savings generated by the commonwealth owning its own network rather than paying to lease from private companies and through revenue generated by leasing half of the network’s fiber strands to private companies.

Outcomes

1

Kentucky has a plan to stimulate economic development for its population through building broadband networks in each county

2

KentuckyWired’s open access design will allow Internet Service Providers to bring faster, more reliable internet to residents in every corner of the commonwealth

3

The project will provide 1,100 government and public facilities with reliable broadband connectivity

4

KentuckyWired will eliminate expensive reliance on private carriers for state agency internet service

5

The project’s design and implementation can be used as a blueprint for other states looking to increase the footprint of high-speed broadband infrastructure

Something Unique

The building of a high-speed broadband network in Kentucky’s Jackson and Owsley Counties led to an influx of new jobs and an upturn in the local economy.

Who Should Consider

Cities/Counties/States looking to increase the footprint of high-speed broadband infrastructure and stimulate economic growth.

Last Updated

Apr 21st, 2022
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