Governor Beshear seeks advice from broadband providers ahead of expansion plan

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WYMT) – Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday asked for contributions from broadband providers as he kicks off the next phase of his Better Kentucky plan.

Kentucky’s best plan will help provide Internet access to more Commonwealth families in need through the Kentucky Broadband Deployment Fund.

Beshear said the $ 1.3 billion plan will create 14,500 jobs in the state and about 10,000 of those jobs are linked to broadband expansion.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated how essential it is for all Kentuckians to have reliable internet access to stay informed, safe and connected,” Beshear said in a press release. “This is the first step towards the strategic use of these funds to support the construction, development or improvement of broadband access throughout the Commonwealth, with our unserved communities being a priority. “

Through a Request for Information, the state solicits ideas, suggestions and comments from broadband service providers, which will be collected and used to determine the types of questions to be included in the next request for proposals. formal.

This contribution helps determine other conditions that providers must meet to receive a reward from the fund.

The inquiry is open until 3:30 p.m. on Monday, July 12 and can be viewed on the state website supplier self-service portal.

A bipartisan agreement, under House Bill 320 and House Bill 382, ​​signed by Beshear allows Kentucky’s Broadband Development Fund to help private sector entities and government agencies cover the cost of building the “last kilometer “of broadband access to unserved and underserved households and businesses across the state.

The fund includes $ 300 million in state dollars to meet the connectivity needs of these communities, including $ 250 million for building broadband infrastructure to connect unserved and underserved areas – of which not. over $ 50 million can be awarded by April 1, 2022 – and $ 50 million for economic development opportunities.

Broadband networks owned, operated or affiliated with local governments, nonprofits and cooperatives, as well as private providers focused on serving entire communities, are encouraged to respond.

Responses to the inquiry may include the requirements of the inquiry, the qualifications of the applicant, project areas, data reflecting the geographic areas of unserved communities, and other information that will aid in the development of the inquiry. proposals.

The Better Kentucky Plan is a bipartisan agreement allocating funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. In addition to the Broadband Deployment Fund, the Better Kentucky Plan will include: $ 250 million to improve water infrastructure across the state, creating about 3,800 jobs; $ 127 million for local school districts to fund construction and renovation projects that, along with other Better Kentucky Plan investments in education, could create up to 1,000 jobs; and more.

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