Broadband RFP Coming Next Week

The effort to bring broadband into unserved and underserved Kentuckians will take another step next week. Kentucky State Budget Director John Hicks told the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue that the request for proposal (RFP) is nearly ready. Hicks said the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority (KIA) would release the RFP next week.

To bring broadband into unserved and underserved areas, lawmakers appropriated $300 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund. KIA can award $50 million of those funds before April 1, 2022. Early funds must target unserved areas, which the state has worked on mapping.

Hicks admitted that “no great map” yet exists, but he said the current map would offer some guidance.

Federal guidance released in May requires minimum download and upload speeds of 100 Mbps. However, Kentucky’s statutory definition, which legislators passed during the 2021 General Assembly, only called for 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. While federal funds require faster speeds, Hicks said some exceptions for geography, typography, or excessive costs are allowed.

Following the RPF’s release, the application process will last two and a half months, followed by a one-month challenge process. The evaluation process and award process timelines are still to be determined.