Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican Congressman Hal Rogers celebrated the start of construction of a broadband network, KentuckyWired, that will extend 3,400 miles throughout the state when completed.
According to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky Center for Business and Economic Research, two-thirds of Kentucky households had access to broadband internet.
The project will first be built out in the eastern part of the state. The first stage will include a series of fiber lines focusing on I-75 from Northern Kentucky to Williamsburg and then southeastern and eastern Kentucky, which will be completed by April 2016.
Beshear says the project will help make Kentucky more economically viable.
“When KentuckyWired is complete, Kentuckians in every corner of our state will be able to tap in to the global economy," Beshear said.
KentuckyWired is estimated to cost $324 million, with a majority of the funds fronted by Australian investment firm Macquarie Capital and a consortium of other investors. Macquarie will operate the network for 30 years as part of a public-private-partnership.
The state legislature has also appropriated $30 million for the project and the federal government has put forward $23.5 million.
The entire network is scheduled for completion in three years.