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Kentucky receives $1 billion grant to expand high-speed internet access

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The federal government is sending more than a billion dollars to Kentucky to expand high-speed internet as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress in 2021.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced details of the grant Monday afternoon in a video posted to social media. He said the federal funds require a match from the private sector, which will make it the largest investment in broadband expansion in the commonwealth’s history.

“This is our best chance to get high-speed internet to every home and every business,” Beshear said. “It is truly exciting.”

Funding priority will go to areas of the state that don’t have internet speeds above 25 megabits per second for downloading and 3 megabits per second for uploading. That’s considered the standard for high-speed internet, allowing users to stream high definition video, use teleconference services and work from home.

More than 250,000 homes and businesses in Kentucky do not have access to high-speed internet, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Beshear administration said the state’s Office of Broadband Development will decide how to allocate the funds, and money is expected to start flowing to internet service providers and local governments in early 2024.

State officials allocated nearly half a billion dollars in federal COVID-19 relief for broadband expansion projects in recent years.

Many residents in rural Kentucky have not yet felt the impact of recent state investments. Efforts to expand broadband access have sputtered for years due to government missteps.

In total, the federal government will distribute $42.45 billion to every state and the District of Columbia to fill in gaps in high-speed internet coverage. Neighboring Indiana and Tennessee will receive $868 million and $813 million, respectively. Ohio will get $793 million.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.