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December 8, 2016

Leading broadband efforts

Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05), right, speaks with President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development Lonnie Lawson (middle) and Center Board of Directors Chairman Bruce Ayers (left) at the broadband news conference.

Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05), right, speaks with President and CEO of The Center for Rural Development Lonnie Lawson (middle) and Center Board of Directors Chairman Bruce Ayers (left) at the broadband news conference.

Developmental work, such as obtaining easements as well as “make-ready” activities, are still ongoing in preparation for actual fiber construction on the KentuckyWired broadband project.  The Center for Rural Development will help lead the Southern and Eastern Kentucky portion of this project in partnership with the Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA).

KentuckyWired is a statewide collaboration between public and private entities which will provide more than 3,000 miles of fiber optic cable throughout the entire state. Governor Matt Bevin and U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) provided an update of the project last month with a joint press conference announcing that they hope to complete the entire state by 2019.

Eastern Kentucky remains the first priority, which is home to some of Kentucky’s most rural communities.

KENTUCKY SUPER I-WAY

Brainstorming on what is now affectionately referred to by Congressman Hal Rogers as the Kentucky Super I-Way, began many years ago but really began to solidify in 2012 between Congressman Rogers and The Center for Rural Development’s President and CEO Lonnie Lawson. Lawson suggested that The Center find a way to build a high-speed, high capacity, open-access fiber optic network throughout Southern and Eastern Kentucky as a way to boost economic development and the quality of Internet service.

“I also want to applaud The Center for Rural Development in Somerset,” Congressman Rogers said during the press conference last month.  “Executive Director Lonnie Lawson is with us. In fact, this was his idea a long time ago. And he’s led the Eastern Kentucky phase since day one serving as an advocate for our region and the program around the state.”

In the development phase of the project, the Commonwealth of Kentucky proposed that the project would be even more beneficial if the network access was delivered throughout the entire state instead of just in Eastern Kentucky. The Kentucky Super I-Way then became the foundation of the larger KentuckyWired broadband project.

“The Center looks forward to working with the Commonwealth and other partners on this project,” Lawson said. “This project is of great importance to not only Eastern Kentucky but across the state.”

KCNA BOARD

dsc_6832The Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA) is the governing body of the project. The board represents major stakeholders in the project including Lawson who is working to try to make the project beneficial for not only public use but commercial use as well. KCNA has been working with all providers to develop collaboration.

“It is essential that we all work together to find solutions that are best for everyone involved,” Lawson said. “The Center is honored to help bring this much needed infrastructure to eastern Kentucky to help revitalize our struggling communities.  This project will not only change the way they connect to the world, but it will help boost the economy and encourage job growth.”

Expected completion of the project is in 2019. For more information on the Eastern Kentucky portion of the project, visit www.kentuckywired.ky.gov or call The Center for Rural Development at 606-677-6000.

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