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Rural Internet Update: 2021

Rural internet access has always been one of the top issues for the 12th District. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the issue has intensified due to the dependency on internet services for work, school, and personal needs.

Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman has begun a broadband initiative to bring together public and private partners to expand internet access and build a stronger digital infrastructure in urban and rural communities across the Commonwealth. The first step is to collect data to find regions where internet connectivity is lacking. From this webpage, the state can collect data about your broadband speed and create a map for our community that will help in efforts to get grants and other support to improve broadband. This initiative goes through February 18th and they have announced that they have had over 30,000 responses so far. Let’s make sure as many as possible provide input on this very important initiative!

Also on the horizon for the 12th District is Spectrum and Windstream have teamed up to bring faster, more reliable internet to almost 500 homes in the 12th District under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction. They are hoping to have the buildout plan completed by later this year and begin buildout in early 2022.

We have included a link to Lt. Governor’s broadband test, as well as more information about Spectrum’s broadband buildout initiative, below. 

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The Kentucky Broadband Initiative is a network of public and private partners working to expand internet access and build a stronger digital infrastructure in urban and rural communities across the commonwealth.

KY Education Cabinet Ky Broadband Initiative

Additionally, Charter Communications recently announced the launch of a multiyear, multibillion-dollar broadband buildout initiative to deliver gigabit high-speed broadband access to more than 1 million unserved customer locations, as estimated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and awarded to Charter in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction. Charter expects to invest approximately $5 billion to support its buildout initiative – offset by $1.2 billion in support won from the RDOF auction – expanding Charter’s network to lower-density, mostly rural communities that do not have access to broadband service of at least 25/3 Mbps. In Kentucky, that includes $58 Million in RDOF funds to expand service to nearly 32,000 locations across Kentucky.

The new initiative is in addition to Charter’s existing network expansion plans, including numerous state broadband grant projects, as well as the Company’s previously planned privately funded expansions. The network Charter will build in these rural areas will offer 1 Gbps high–speed broadband access to all newly served customer locations with starting speeds of 200 Mbps, enabling consumers to engage in remote learning, work, telemedicine and other applications that require high-bandwidth, low-latency connectivity.

Preparation for the RDOF Phase I broadband buildout has already begun and will include Charter expanding its existing construction organization in order to focus on deployment of this new fiber optic network. Charter expects to hire more than 2,000 employees and contractors to support the RDOF and future rural buildout initiatives. In addition to Charter’s ongoing network expansion, the RDOF program alone will drive a 15% increase in the Company’s network mileage coverage while expanding service to more than 1 million previously unserved homes and businesses across 24 states as estimated by the FCC.

In Lexington-Fayette County, Charter Communications will utilize this opportunity to partner with Windstream and expand service to about 500 homes in the 12th District. They plan to have build-out plans ready by late 2021, so stay tuned for more information!