Kentucky to get another $182 million to improve broadband access
Published 3:50 pm Monday, February 6, 2023
BY LIAM NIEMEYER
The Kentucky Lantern
Gov. Andy Beshear joined U.S. Department of the Treasury officials to announce more than $182 million in federal funding Thursday for broadband deployment throughout Kentucky, padding onto hundreds of millions of dollars the state has already invested in expanding internet access.
The federal funding, made available through the American Rescue Plan Act, is one of a series of funding announcements the Biden administration is making about investments in broadband infrastructure across the country.
“These funds add to the historic investments we’re already making in high speed internet. It’s going to bring transformational change to the commonwealth, and it’s going to benefit Kentuckians for generations to come,” Beshear said during the virtual press conference.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury anticipates the federal funding will be able to expand broadband access to an estimated 45,000 locations in Kentucky, or approximately 16% of locations that still lack internet access in the state.
The funding will go to the state Broadband Deployment Fund, established through past legislation with bipartisan support by the GOP-dominated Kentucky legislature and the Democratic governor, to build internet connection throughout the state.
The state has already earmarked $300 million, also from American Rescue Plan Act federal funds previously given to Kentucky, to hand out competitive grants to internet providers building in areas lacking affordable, reliable internet connection.
The state gave over $89 million of that grant funding in June 2022 to electric cooperatives, local governments and private telecommunications companies to support broadband projects in the state. Charter Communications, one of the country’s largest cable providers, won the large majority of that funding.
Internet providers who receive a part of the latest federal funding made available to Kentucky will also participate in a Federal Communications Commission program that provides a subsidy of up to $30 a month toward broadband bills for eligible households based on income and other criteria.