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Kentucky plan to bring broadband Internet to underserved areas gets federal approval


A federal program to bring broadband Internet to underserved areas across Kentucky is making headway.

The Biden administration is approving Kentucky’s plan for the nationwide Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program, also known as BEAD.

Last year, the administration announced more than one billion dollars would go towards implementing that program in Kentucky.

The Federal Communications Commission says around 12 percent of Kentucky is either underserved or unserved when it comes to Internet connection. The money will allow for more broadband infrastructure to be built.

“High Speed Internet isn't just the infrastructure of the future, it's the infrastructure of right now, just as important as roads and bridges, it's something that everybody wants, and it's something that everybody needs to be both accessible and affordable,” Governor Andy Beshear said during a Zoom conference.

BEAD falls under the administration’s Internet for All program. It aims to connect everyone to some form of Internet connection by the end of the decade.

Governor Andy Beshear called the funds “transformational” for Kentucky.

“It's a chance for everybody to chase their dreams, whether that's applying for a new and better job, or applying for college, getting the health care they need to feel their best, or starting a business in a rural area,” Beshear said.

The program includes matching investments from private money and requires Internet providers to offer a low-cost option for residents. The FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which gave low-income Kentuckians credits to help pay for Internet, ended last month.

Previously, Kentucky has received $600 million from both the American Rescue Plan Act and private funds for the same goal. Gov. Beshear says the money helped connect 76,000 homes and businesses in 65 counties.

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Shepherd joined WEKU in June 2023 as a staff reporter. He most recently worked for West Virginia Public Broadcasting as General Assignment Reporter. In that role, he collected interviews and captured photos in the northern region of West Virginia. Shepherd holds a master’s degree in Digital Marketing Communication and a bachelor’s in music from West Virginia University.
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