Saturday, January 25, 2014

Don't Hold Your Breath for Beshear and Rogers to Keep Broadband Promise

I've been covering the broadband-coming-to-Kentucky lies for going on five years now, and we have yet to see a pixel of actual high-speed access.

Anybody care to bet me that this time last year we still won't have seen a new pixel?

Governor Steve Beshear joined Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers today to announce an ambitious state and federal investment to extend critically-needed high-speed broadband Internet access to the furthest reaches of the Commonwealth. 

The underserved eastern Kentucky region will be the first priority area for the project, which will be supported by $60 million in state bonds and $40 million in federal and private sources.

“Access to high-speed and high-quality Internet is no longer a luxury; it’s a necessity in the 21st century economy.  Businesses and schools demand it,” said Gov. Beshear. “Our communities that lack reliable high-speed access will lag behind in economic development, distance learning and advanced health technologies, and that’s unacceptable.”

“The new ‘Super I-way’ will level the playing field,” said Congressman Rogers. “It takes away our historic barriers to better jobs, the difficult terrain and isolation. All of a sudden, the world is flat and the famed superior work ethic of our people will be able to compete with the world from home.”

Currently, Kentucky ranks 46th in high-speed broadband Internet availability. Nearly a quarter of the Commonwealth’s population -- 23 percent -- have no access to broadband.  The Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway will offer affordable and accessible high-speed broadband to reduce the barriers of geography for businesses and citizens.

The Commonwealth will partner with the Center for Rural Development for the first phase of the project in eastern Kentucky, leveraging various federal funds and private investment to attain access throughout the region.  The Center has initiated a feasibility study that will be complete in the next several weeks outlining the costs and plans of meeting eastern Kentucky’s broadband needs.
It goes on for thousands of more mendacious words, but I'll spare you.

High-speed broadband goes two places and two places only: densely-populated cities where telecoms can make obscene profits on minimum investment, and small towns whose progressive governments provide universal broadband at public expense.

As long as the Beshear/Rogers plan is dependent on private companies to serve rural counties, it's doomed to fail.

Fun fact: this press release from Governor's Beshear's Office is nowhere to be found among all the state press releases on But it is prominent on Hal Rogers' website, to which no, you may not have a link..

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