Broadband Internet Access to Expand in Rural Kentucky

Rural communities in Kentucky will see an expansion in their access to broadband internet service, thanks to $246 million in grant dollars that the state was just awarded last week. The grants are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the federal stimulus package. These awards are a part of the federal government’s long-term strategy to expand and improve internet throughout the country. (Visit http://www.broadband.gov/ to learn more about this.

The recently awarded round of grants includes awards of more than $125 million in far west Kentucky, and more than $80 million in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. The eight funded projects outlined plans to build broadband infrastructure in unserved or underserved rural areas. The following is a list of the awards:

Leslie County Telephone Company – $6.1 million
Salem Telephone Company – $1.9 million
West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc. – $123.8 million
Highland Telephone Cooperative, Inc. – $66 million
People’s Rural Telephone Cooperative, Inc. – $25.5 million
Foothills Rural Telephone Cooperative Corporation, Inc. – $20.9 million
Windstream Corporation – $950,000
Mikrotec CATV LLC – $829,000

Kentucky had already received $75 million from this broadband infrastructure fund for projects in Grant, Owen, Morgan, Menifee, Wolfe and Elliott counties.

“Not only will this funding help create jobs, it will also help bring much-needed infrastructure to our rural communities, helping them to expand their services, attracting new businesses that will bring economic growth and jobs by providing affordable access to critical 21st Century technologies,” said Gov. Beshear.

Broadband functionality and access will be key to factor in economic diversification in Central Appalachia, as it facilitates small business-start ups and connects remote areas to larger market bases.