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Kentucky to receive $1.1 billion from federal program for high-speed internet access across state


Kentucky will receive over one billion dollars to improve high speed internet access to residents across the state.

During an event with White House staff, Governor Andy Beshear announced the funding will come from the federal Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program. The program allots grants to states across the country to help expand affordable and reliable high-speed internet access to underserved communities. Last year, Beshear announced the state received $386 million to fund broadband infrastructure projects across the Commonwealth.

During the announcement Gov. Beshear said the funding will allow projects to reach areas without broadband access.

“More than $200 million now available of the $1.1 billion combined with the match from the private sector will mean we will exceed over a billion dollars in the near future with help from the Biden administration,” Beshear said. “So with this over-billion dollars and the matching billion dollars we will create, I am confident that with what we have already done we will hook up every home and every business in Kentucky.”

The BEAD program is a $42 billion state grant program under the umbrella of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The program allocated grants to states and territories across the U.S. to deploy or upgrade high-speed internet networks.

Gov. Beshear was joined by Executive Director of Kentucky’s Broadband Development office, Meghan Sandfoss in the announcement. According to Sandfoss, Kentucky is currently in the “Challenge process” that will determine what regions will receive priority to receive funding first.

“We received almost 400,000 Challenges,” Sandfoss said. “It was quite a bit of participation from the industry, as well as local government, and nonprofits. So that is underway and we should wrap that up in July.”

According to state data, the previous round of funding allowed over 42,000 businesses and private residents in 46 counties across the state to receive high-speed internet for the first time, but there are still roughly 17,000 locations that are considered to be unserved.

Governor Beshear said broadband access can improve healthcare and quality of life for Kentuckians.

“When you have access to high internet access, your access to healthcare improves dramatically and whether that's getting the mental health care that you need through telehealth, whether that's seeing a specialist you need without flying across the country for something,” Beshear said.

Copyright 2024 WKU Public Radio

Jacob Martin

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