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GRADD searching for more infrastructure money to aid the Kenergy/Conexon project

Judge-Executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts, Kenergy Board Rep. for Hancock County Brent Wigginton and GRADD Rep. Colie Smith examine maps of the county that show numbers of those with no internet and with low internet speed.

A BEAD (Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program) Stakeholder Meeting was held on Friday, January 12th at the Hancock County Administration Building. It was the beginning step in applying for some of the funding that will be available soon statewide through the Federal Infrastructure Act. Every state will be receiving money for broadband, and Kentucky will be getting $1,086,172,536.68, to be used for underserved and unserved areas.

Judge-Executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts, Kenergy Board Representatives for Hancock County Brent Wigginton and Richard Basham, both representing the HC Industrial Foundation, and Regional Resiliency Coordinator/Economic Development Specialist with GRADD Colie Smith began the process at this meeting, of identifying more exact numbers of what areas don’t yet have internet, and that have slow internet speed, in an effort for Hancock County to receive the maximum amount possible of this funding.

“Basically, it is a new pot of money coming down from the federal government to the state, all states, but KY is getting over a billion dollars to where internet providers can apply to bring it to unserved/underserved areas,” Roberts said. “At some point in the process, what we’ll want folks to do is be able to say, ‘My internet service provider is this, and this is supposed to be my service but after I did my speed test I’m not getting that service.’ And, we’re going to challenge these (existing) maps.

There’s always been a question about who actually has the service that these maps show. They may show that an area of the county is covered, but in reality they’re not because if you’re in a census block where somebody has a certain amount of service, then they assume that everybody in the block is covered.”

Any internet service provider that wants to provide to these unserved/underserved areas can apply for some of these dollars statewide, whether it be AT&T, Comcast, Conexon Connect, TDS and any other company involved in wired broadband (this excludes wireless).

“What their hope is,” Roberts continued, “is they would be able to get some of that money for this Kenergy region for the underserved areas. That would help expedite the Kenergy/Conexon project, which is underway. We finally have people in Hancock County that are now connected. Conexon is still committed to going to every place in Hancock County that has a Kenergy meter. This is just money to help them finance their project.

And, if another provider gets some of that money, there might be a little competition going on in that area. Which would, ultimately, help the consumer. But Conexon is still committed to doing their whole project. Their commitment is, if you have a Kenergy meter in Hancock County you’re going to be offered this service.

For Kenergy/Conexon – this joint venture/partnership, it’s about a $150 million dollar project. That’s for the whole Kenergy region. So what monies they can get back would help alleviate some of that pressure and maybe help expedite the whole project.”

For more details on the Office of Broadband Development’s Five-Year Action Plan for expansion of high-speed internet in Kentucky (informed by data and research and local coordination with local leaders, community, and industry partners), please visit the website: digitalequity.ky.gov.

AT&T Internet

By Jennifer Wimmer

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