Kentucky is seizing its own broadband destiny.
Today, Kentucky ranks No. 46 out of the 50 states in broadband availability. Nearly a quarter of households have no access to broadband. Eastern Kentucky, which faces hardships from the coal industry’s restructuring, has even less access than the rest of the state.
But the state is on the cusp of a new broadband era.
In December 2014, Kentucky announced a partnership with Macquarie Capital to build a middle-mile fiber network through every county of the state. The new fiber ring will stretch 3,000 miles. The first segments will open next year — and they will be in underserved Eastern Kentucky.
The open-access fiber ring will:
More than 100 facilities will be connected directly, including universities, state government buildings and community and technical colleges. Cellphone carriers will use the network to expand their capacity. And private providers, cities, partnerships, and others will tap into the fiber ring to bring services to homes and businesses.
Kentucky’s new fiber ring will set off a boom in broadband construction.
Kentucky has a long history of locally based broadband. Eleven municipal utilities already offer fiber broadband to homes and/or businesses. So do at least nine rural telcos and a regional ISP.
With abundant fiber backhaul available, more providers will be able to deliver high-quality broadband to their residents. Some areas may even see broadband competition for the first time.
Kentucky’s Center for Rural Development in Somerset will host education workshops to help communities learn how to connect to the new network.
Lexington is set to become the next gigabit city.
The city of Lexington has already jumped on the opportunity that the fiber ring offers. In March, it issued an RFI for a provider, either alone or in partnership with the city, to build a fiber optic network to connect homes and businesses.
Lexington isn’t just asking for gigabit speeds — it’s asking for affordable prices, reliability and great service, too. The city plans to use the network to drive more business activity and economic development.
What better place to hold a conference on community fiber networks?