The middle-mile fiber solution

The middle-mile fiber solution

Ranking 47th in broadband speed and capacity prompted Kentucky officials to help bring high-speed internet to the one-third of homes in rural areas that don’t currently have access.

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The KentuckyWired program is installing over 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cable, with the initial build-out in the eastern part of the commonwealth. The statewide, open-access, middle-mile, fiber optic network that will allow  1,000 government and postsecondary education sites in all 120 counties to be connectivity points in communities for local internet service providers to tap into for last-mile service to customers. From those access points, private-sector ISPs can extend fiber to a home or business.

High-speed internet is already making an economic difference in Kentucky. U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers said the installation of high-speed internet in Jackson and Owsley counties has allowed about 200 people to get jobs working from home.

The Kentucky Communications Network Authority (KCNA), the entity overseeing KentuckyWired, will be working with Cincinnati Bell Telephone System and the East Kentucky Network LLC (EKN) for cable construction and/or fiber leasing. EKN covers 21 counties in eastern Kentucky and will tie into northern Kentucky’s main trunk line. Cincinnati Bell will provide network redundancy and a key gateway to the internet via Cincinnati.

KCNA also is working with local/regional telecommunications and utility companies on agreements to attach the fiber cables to utility poles owned by those firms. Additional partnerships are also under discussion.Construction of the network began in mid-2015 and uses existing infrastructure wherever possible, minimizing costs and engaging local providers, according to a project fact sheet. To date approximately $107 million has been spent on the project, which is funded by a public-private partnership. Under the terms of the agreement, the equity partners will design, build, operate and maintain the network for 30 years, after which the commonwealth will assume ownership.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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