Boone County to receive funds for high-speed internet at unserved homes

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Boone County Fiscal Court received a state grant for $808,832 to support expansion of reliable and affordable high-speed internet access.

The overall project cost is $4,880,432, including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 2,130 currently unserved households and businesses in Boone County, a news release said.

Governor Andy Beshear announced the funds on Monday as part of his ‘Better Kentucky Plan’. In all, $203 million is being invested across the state to expand high-speed internet access to 34,000 families and businesses.

Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore expressed gratitude.

“These funds will be applied to continuing the buildout of fiber to every household in the county, resulting in universal access to a system capable of delivering 1.0 gigabytes of service,” Moore said. “This transformative project continues to progress and is on schedule for completion during the first half of 2023.”

Beshear said that the state’s ‘Better Internet’ program is providing more than $89.1 million in 46 grant awards to 12 internet service providers and local governments across 35 Kentucky counties. Grant recipients have pledged funds to match the state’s contributions, bringing the total investment for this round of broadband expansion awards to over $203 million.

“I am incredibly pleased to announce what I believe is the single largest provision of funding for high-speed internet in our commonwealth’s history,” Beshear said. “High-speed, reliable internet service is not just the infrastructure of the future; it is the infrastructure of the present. It is just as important right now as roads and bridges. And today is a key part of our plan to build a better Kentucky, as high-speed internet will be critical to the success of our state’s economy and to future job creation.”

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The awards were made using a competitive process managed by the Finance and Administration Cabinet, which issued a request for proposals (RFP) in August of last year. An evaluation team comprised of state government employees spent six months evaluating and scoring the nearly 100 proposals received in response to the RFP. The 12 successful applicants representing 46 projects were selected based on their demonstrated ability to meet certain conditions required to receive this funding.

“These grants will lower the cost of construction so that our most rural areas will have access to this necessity of high-speed internet,” said State Budget Director John Hicks. 

“These funds are dedicated to unserved areas in Kentucky. We’re also setting up Kentucky’s first Office of Broadband Development to help administer and create a master plan for the commonwealth to provide universal service to every Kentuckian.”

The awards announced Monday follow a bipartisan agreement signed into law by Gov. Beshear in April 2021 that allocated $300 million in federal American Rescue Plan dollars to bring internet access to unserved and underserved communities across the commonwealth.

House Bill 320 and House Bill 382, enacted by the 2021 General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Beshear, established Kentucky’s Broadband Deployment Fund to assist private sector entities and governmental agencies in the cost of constructing the “last mile” of high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved households and businesses across Kentucky.

The fund includes $300 million earmarked for the construction of high-speed internet infrastructure to connect areas currently without access.

Combined with at least 50% required matching federal investments, a minimum of $600 million will support the expansion of high-speed internet in Kentucky, creating more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs. This historic investment, coupled with the internet speed test, access mapping, and the KentuckyWired project, positions the commonwealth to move to the forefront of high-speed internet expansion nationwide.

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