USDA Rural Utilities Administrator Jonathan Adelstein visited Western Kentucky recently to announce the start of one of the largest broadband projects in the country.
West Kentucky and Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative (WK&T) has been selected to receive more than $123 million in loan and grant funding to build a fiber optic network that will bring high-speed broadband capability to every home, business and institution in WK&T’s multi-county and multi-state service area. The project will create 160 new jobs and be complete within three years.
The Administrator was joined by WK&T CEO Trevor Bonnstetter and Rural Development State Directors Tom Fern (KY) and Bobby Goode (Tenn.) as he discussed the impact this project will have on both states.
“This is an exciting day for Western Kentucky and West Tennessee … and we are happy to be your partners in this project. We’re making broadband a top priority of USDA – it is one of the (agency’s) five pillars for revitalizing rural America,” said Adelstein. “This project will help businesses, educational institutions, healthcare providers – and all rural citizens will benefit. The finest broadband available today will now be available in Western Kentucky and West Tennessee.”
The money for the project will be used to construct a “last mile” fiber-to-the-home network that will include 21,000 homes and businesses, plus about 100 critical community institutions, such as schools, libraries and public buildings.
Once completed, the fiber network will carry broadband at speeds rivaling anything available in urban areas, according to WK&T CEO Trevor Bonnstetter. WK&T expects to double its number of data subscribers, with approximately 90 percent on broadband at speeds significantly higher than those available now.
To date, 12 telecommunications companies in Kentucky have been selected to receive more than $324 million to provide high-speed Internet service to residents of more than 20 rural communities. Additionally, two more Kentucky providers were awarded funding through the Department of Commerce for an additional $1.7 million broadband investment.
For information about broadband funding announced by USDA today click here.