Project aims to increase high-speed internet access across NKY

Upgraded internet service is coming to Kenton, Campbell and Boone counties, which will connect some areas that have not had high-speed internet before. Photo provided | John Schnobrich via Unsplash.

In the age of remote work brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, a reliable internet connection is a necessity in order to work and play in the contemporary economic landscape. The leadership of Campbell County, in conjunction with Kenton and Boone, have prioritized upgrading the regions internet cable infrastructure. 

According to Campbell County Judge/Executive Steve Pendery, it’s estimated that over 17,000 households in Campbell County carry less than the bandwidth that’s needed to meet current standards, and 6,600 households don’t have an internet connection at all. 

“If you don’t have a Wi-Fi or internet connection of some variety, you were in trouble because we had husbands and wives that were trying to work remotely, kids from school are trying to do the same, and elderly people are trying to send messages back and forth with their doctors and so on,” Pendery said in Monday night’s Newport City Commission meeting.

Fiber-optic cables contain multiple optical fibers that are used to transport light. Fiber-optic cables are superior to copper cables in regards to internet connectivity because they carry substantially more data further away at higher speeds. Fiber-optic cables are necessary for the smooth transmission of data.

In 2016, Boone, Kenton and Campbell County Fiscal Courts entered a Memorandum of Understanding to upgrade their public safety radio infrastructure. Due to the collaborative success of that project, the three Fiscal Courts searched for another large scale digital infrastructure project to work on together.

“We were looking for something else we can do together and arrived at the conclusion that maybe working on internet connections abroad in the three counties would be a timely thing,” Pendery said.

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Campbell, Kenton, and Boone County leadership set out to find a provider to upgrade the region’s high-speed internet connection and infrastructure.

Cincinnati Bell, now altafiber, is one of the premier fiber-optic cable providers in the region. Campbell County chose to use Cincinnati Bell Fioptics through their RFP process because the company has a proven track record of success in the internet infrastructure industry. 

Due to the increasing importance of fiber-optic cable infrastructure, Pendery said the project will “future-proof” the connections. The implementation of the fiber-optic cables allows Northern Kentucky to be ahead of the game, avoiding obsoletion of their internet cable grid.

Pendery said that Cincinnati Bell is about “halfway done” with the project.

“It’s the benefit of planning and being prepared,” Newport Mayor Tom Guidulgi Jr. said. “That fact that Campbell County was essentially shovel ready with something that, fortunately, we got federal funding to strengthen our entire community.”

According to Pendery, once the implementation is complete, Northern Kentucky will be the largest area of the United States to have fiber-optic cable to the door.

“Most public infrastructure, the cost only goes one direction. It goes up with things such as sewers and water,” Pendery said. “The numbers we’re hearing quoted by providers when it comes to internet connections actually get them coming down.”

As network connection expands outward into more areas, the provider’s connection points become closer, which causes the price to lower. Pendery said Cincinnati Bell will distribute pricing literature to better inform residents on their offered price breaks when the company enters the neighborhood.

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Northern Kentucky continues to expand, and new age digital infrastructure will make the region highly desirable for potential economic suitors. In a modern economy, digital infrastructure goes hand-in-hand with traditional infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Once Cincinnati Bell’s fiber-optic expansion project has completed, Northern Kentuckians will have access to some of the best internet access in the United States.