Funding announced to provide high-speed internet in underserved areas

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Gov. Andy Beshear has continued his commitment to bring high-speed internet to underserved areas across the Commonwealth, announcing an additional $20 million in grants to help eligible internet providers with utility pole replacement costs. There must be costs associated with rolling out high-speed Internet access in unserviced areas, for residents and businesses that currently have no access or are connected to low Internet speeds.

“Providing high-speed Internet access to individuals and businesses in underserved areas of the Commonwealth is critical to both our economic prosperity and our educational future,” said Governor Beshear. “By paying for a portion of the cost of replacing power poles needed to support high-speed Internet deployment, we can help bring that Internet service to more individuals, businesses and communities across Kentucky.”

The grant funding was included in House Bill 315, enacted by the 2022 General Assembly and signed by Governor Beshear, which provided $20 million in federal dollars to the American Rescue Plan to establish the Kentucky Rural Infrastructure Improvement Fund (KRIIF).

An unserviced area is defined as an area where at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 3 Mbps upstream are unavailable.

Projects eligible for these grants include the construction, development or improvement of infrastructure to support the deployment or expansion of high-speed internet services with a minimum speed of 100 Mbps downstream and 100 Mbps upstream in them unserved areas.

The evaluation of applications and awarding of grants from KRIIF will be managed by the newly created Office of Broadband Development, tasked with promoting and expanding high-speed Internet access to support job creation and economic development, while meeting the needs of the to meet citizens of Kentucky. who rely on it for news, information, education, healthcare and entertainment.

Eligible applicants include any retail Internet service provider that incurs an actual and reasonable cost of an eligible power pole required to house attachments used to provide high-speed Internet service to homes and businesses in an unserviced area. The maximum grant amount is capped at $5,000 per pole replaced, but the award cannot exceed 50% of the total cost of each pole replaced. Eligible expenses must be incurred on or after July 1, 2022, the grant effective date.

login windowGrant applications will be accepted beginning September 1, 2022 and will remain open until all funds are exhausted. KRS 224A.1123(4)(h) requires the Office of Broadband Development to award awards within 60 days of receipt of a completed application demonstrating eligibility for expenses. Any application pending at the time the fund is exhausted will be deemed rejected but may be reconsidered if sufficient funds later become available.

The application and all eligibility criteria are available at Completed applications must be submitted [email protected].

Better internet programOn June 20, 2022, Governor Beshear announced a historic investment of over $203 million to provide reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to more than 34,000 Kentucky families and businesses.

This first round of funding, awarded through the Governor’s Better Internet Program, provides more than $89.6 million in 47 grants to 12 ISPs and local governments in 36 Kentucky counties. Grantees also pledged funds equal to state contributions, bringing the total investment for the first round of high-speed Internet rollout awards to over $203 million.

The awards were the first to be made under the newly created Kentucky Broadband Deployment Fund, a bipartisan agreement passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Beshear. The fund was established to assist private sector companies and government agencies with the costs of building the “last mile” of high-speed Internet access for unserved and underserved homes and businesses across Kentucky.

The fund includes $300 million earmarked for building high-speed internet infrastructure to connect unserved and underserved areas.

When combined with at least 50% of the required equivalent federal investment, a minimum of $600 million will support the expansion of high-speed Internet in Kentucky and create more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.

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