Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced that the application window for $206 million in grant funding to expand high-speed internet access is now open.
In a press release, the governor’s office explained that the distribution of these funds supports Gov. Beshear’s Better Internet Initiative, which is committed to expanding high-speed internet access to areas of the commonwealth with unserved populations or those with download speeds of 10 Mbps or less.
“Access to reliable, high-speed internet is not only essential to our future economic growth; it is critical infrastructure that is as vital as roads and bridges,” Gov. Beshear said. “These grant funds help us ensure we are reaching every corner of the commonwealth by helping more families have high-speed internet for the first time.”
The grant program is run through the Office of Broadband Development. The grants will be competitively awarded to high-speed internet networks owned, operated or affiliated with local governments, nonprofits and cooperatives, as well as private providers.
Gov. Beshear’s office explained that applications will be accepted until February 6, 2023, and grants will be awarded based on an applicant’s demonstrated ability to meet the criteria outlined in the application.
This marks the second round of funding for this grant program. During the initial round of funding this summer, the state awarded 47 broadband grants totaling more than $89.6 million. The grants were awarded to 12 internet service providers and local governments across 36 Kentucky counties.
For the first round of funding, each of the grant recipients pledged at least 50 percent in matching funds to support these projects, bringing the total investment for the first round of broadband expansion awards to over $203 million.
Funding for the grant program comes from Kentucky’s Broadband Deployment Fund. The fund is intended to assist private sector entities and governmental agencies in the cost of constructing the “last mile” of high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved households and businesses across Kentucky.
The fund earmarked $300 million for the construction of high-speed internet infrastructure to connect areas currently without access. Due to the fund’s required matching investments, at least $500 million will be invested to expand high-speed internet in Kentucky. The governor’s office claims this will create more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs.