Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear delivers his State of the Commonwealth address to the General Assembly at the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky., Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.


Kentucky is set to receive more than $182 million in federal money to fund projects that will provide reliable broadband access to areas of the state that lack high-speed Internet.

The money will go toward infrastructure projects that will eventually connect about 45,000 homes in Kentucky, said Gov. Andy Beshear, who made the announcement at a news conference Thursday along with federal officials from the U.S. Treasury.

“Many of those areas are currently underserved,” Beshear said. “And they need this technology to take advantage of all the great opportunities coming our way. Expanding access to reliable, high-speed Internet will improve the lives of Kentucky families, and it will support our future economic growth.”

The funding, which originates from the federal Capital Projects Fund, will go to the Kentucky Broadband Deployment Fund, a pre-existing state program that has already dispersed money for broadband projects through competitive grants.

“Rural and urban areas can apply for it, and we hope they will,” Beshear said.

Adding to Thursday’s announcement, the state has made nearly $600 million in broadband expansion funds available since June, Beshear said. The money is available to service providers and local governments to build broadband infrastructure projects.

Internet service providers providing part of the funding announced Thursday will participate in the Affordable Communications Program, a Federal Communications Commission program that subsidizes monthly Internet costs for low-income households, according to a news release announcing the funds. :

“This is a lifeline that can improve our lives, our standard of living,” Beshir said. “And that’s just as important as any road or bridge that’s out there. So a better Internet is just a key part of our plan to build a better Kentucky.”

Just over half of US adults who earn less than $30,000 a year have broadband Internet access at home, according to Pew Research conducted in early 2021.

During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the increased shift to digital environments, both in the workplace and at school, often limits employment and educational opportunities for those without broadband access. A separate 2020 Pew study found that 40% of low-income US parents said their children needed public Wi-Fi to complete their schoolwork because they didn’t have a reliable connection at home.

The federal Capital Projects Funds were created as part of the America’s Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The $10 billion fund has sent money to 30 states since June. In the same call, federal officials also announced broadband allocations for Nevada, Alabama and Texas.

This story was originally published January 26, 2023 16:50.

Rick Childress covers Eastern Kentucky for the Herald-Leader. The Lexington native and University of Kentucky graduate first joined the newspaper in 2016 as an agate desk clerk in the sports department and covered higher education in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He spent most of 2021 covering news and sports for the Klamath Falls Herald and News in rural southern Oregon before returning to Kentucky in 2022.


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