Local governments can now apply for funding to expand high-speed internet. The Office of Broadband Development will award more than $206 million to high-speed internet networks owned, operated, or affiliated with local governments, nonprofits and cooperatives, and private providers. Kentucky will accept applications until Feb. 6, 2023, and award grants based on an applicant’s demonstrated ability to meet the criteria outlined in the application.
The state is working on expanding high-speed internet access to areas that are currently underserved or have download speeds of 10 Mbps or less. Governor Andy Beshear called high-speed internet as vital to Kentucky’s infrastructure as roads and bridges.
Broadband deployment projects must occur in areas that lack terrestrial broadband service of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. Eligible projects would reliably meet or exceed symmetrical upload and download speeds of 100 Mbps.
Grant recipients must provide a local match of 50% to 70% depending on the average number of locations per route mile. Cities may use their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) recovery funds and Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grants to satisfy the match requirement.
The legislature passed measures in the 2021 and 2022 regular sessions that established Kentucky’s Broadband Deployment Fund and apportioned $300 million to assist private sector entities and governmental agencies in constructing the “last mile” of high-speed internet. The first round of grant funding in June provided more than $89 million.