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Grants announced to expand internet in Casey, Russell Counties

From Crystal Staley/Scottie Ellis

Frankfort, KY - - As part of his Better Kentucky Plan, Gov. Andy Beshear announced a historic investment of over $203 million to expand reliable and affordable high-speed internet to more than 34,000 Kentucky families and businesses.

The Governor said that the state's Better Internet program is providing more than $89.1 million in 46 grant awards to 12 internet service providers and local governments across 35 Kentucky counties. Grant recipients have pledged funds to match the state's contributions, bringing the total investment for this round of broadband expansion awards to over $203 million.

Among the grants are $1,012,879 for Cumberland Cellular to expand access in Casey County, and $3,368,826 to Duo-County Telephone Cooperative to expand access to high-speed internet to 550 currently unserved households and businesses located in Russell and Wayne counties.


"I am incredibly pleased to announce what I believe is the single largest provision of funding for high-speed internet in our commonwealth's history," Gov. Beshear said. "High-speed, reliable internet service is not just the infrastructure of the future, it is the infrastructure of the present. It is just as important right now as roads and bridges. And today is a key part of our plan to build a better Kentucky, as high-speed internet will be critical to the success of our state's economy and to future job creation."

The awards were made using a competitive process managed by the Finance and Administration Cabinet, which issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in August 2021. An evaluation team comprised of state government employees spent six months evaluating and scoring the nearly 100 proposals received in response to the RFP. The 12 successful applicants, representing 46 projects, were selected based on their demonstrated ability to meet certain conditions required to receive this funding.

"These grants will lower the cost of construction so that our most rural areas will have access to this necessity of high-speed internet," State Budget Director John Hicks said. "These funds are dedicated to unserved areas in Kentucky. We're also setting up Kentucky's first Office of Broadband Development to help administer and create a master plan for the commonwealth to provide universal service to every Kentuckian."

Awards announced today include:

  • Charter Communications received 18 grant awards totaling $49,980,694. The overall project investment is $118,808,035 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 18,553 currently unserved households and businesses located in Anderson, Bourbon, Boyle, Carroll, Henry, Jefferson, Jessamine, Lincoln, Madison, Oldham, Shelby, Spencer and Trimble counties.

  • Frankfort Plant Board received 11 grants totaling $8,045,741. The overall project cost is $16,091,483 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 1,918 currently unserved households and businesses located in Franklin County.

  • Pennyrile Rural Electric Cooperative received seven grants totaling $13,827,320. The overall project cost is $27,906,340 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 5,598 currently unserved households and businesses located in Caldwell, Christian, Lyon, Todd and Trigg counties.

  • West Kentucky Rural Telephone Co-op Corporation received two grant awards totaling $3,365,704. The overall project cost is $6,731,408 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 843 currently unserved households and businesses located in Calloway and Marshall counties.

  • Cumberland Cellular received a grant for $1,012,879. The overall project cost is $2,025,758 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 290 currently unserved households and businesses located in Casey County.

  • South Central Telecom received a grant for $1,885,000. The overall project cost is $3,710,000 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 215 currently unserved households and businesses located in Edmonson and Warren counties.

  • Gibson Connect received a grant for $4,650,880. The overall project cost is $11,073,552 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 1,763 currently unserved households and businesses located in Fulton, Graves and Hickman counties.

  • Boone County Fiscal Court received a grant for $808,832. The overall project cost is $4,880,432 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 2,130 currently unserved households and businesses located in Boone County.

  • Duo County Telephone Cooperative received a grant for $3,368,826. The overall project cost is $6,737,652 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 550 currently unserved households and businesses located in Russell and Wayne counties.

  • Bardstown Connect received a grant for $1,090,982. The overall project cost is $3,305,064 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 1,061 currently unserved households and businesses located in Bullitt, Nelson, Spencer and Washington counties.

  • Crystal Broadband Networks received a grant for $255,835. The overall project cost is $515,835 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 1,006 currently unserved households and businesses located in Powell County.

  • Tri-County Electric received a grant for $900,000. The overall project cost is $1,800,000 including the required matching funds. This investment will expand access to high-speed internet to 97 currently unserved households and businesses located in Monroe County.

"The grants are going to bring fiber broadband to over 850 people. I can't tell you what an impact that has on people's lives. It promotes health care, learning and just a better quality of life," DUO Broadband CEO and Cumberland Cellular, LLC president Tom Preston said. "On behalf of our employees, our board of directors and everybody involved, we just want to say thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

The awards announced today are the result of a bipartisan agreement signed into law by Gov. Beshear in April 2021 that allocated $300 million in federal American Rescue Plan dollars to bring internet access to unserved and underserved communities across the commonwealth.

House Bill 320 and House Bill 382, enacted by the 2021 General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Beshear, established Kentucky's Broadband Deployment Fund to assist private sector entities and governmental agencies in the cost of constructing the "last mile" of high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved households and businesses across Kentucky.

The fund includes $300 million earmarked for the construction of high-speed internet infrastructure to connect areas currently without access.

Combined with at least 50% required matching federal investments, a minimum of $600 million will support the expansion of high-speed internet in Kentucky, creating more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs. This historic investment, coupled with the internet speed test, access mapping and the KentuckyWired project, positions the commonwealth to move to the forefront of high-speed internet expansion nationwide.


This story was posted on 2022-06-20 11:52:35
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