KY Launches Public-Private Broadband Initiative, IA Plan Again Faces Uncertainty

January 07, 2015

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear announced the creation a new public-private partnership to support the development of a statewide, fiber broadband infrastructure with a focus on supporting economic and social prosperity across the commonwealth. The ambitious initiative would provide the entire state with high-speed internet – with the first components scheduled to be operational in less than two years. When completed, the more than 3,000 miles of fiber will be in place across the state. Overall, the project is estimated to cost between $250 million to $350 million over the next 30 years, and will be supported by approximately $30 million in state bonds and $15 million to $20 million in federal grants.

The first two years of the plan will focus on the underserved eastern Kentucky region. In addition to infrastructure development, partners also will provide education to residents and business on the benefits and use of broadband. In addition to the economic benefits, the plan also will assist in K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, academic research and distance education.  Read the announcement…

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad’s broadband proposal may once again fail to receive approval by state lawmakers after being shotdown by the Iowa House in 2014. Announced in September 2013, the Connect Every Iowan initiative is a series of recommendations to increase the access, adoption, and use of broadband technology with the ultimate goal of supporting the creation of new and growth of existing businesses while providing the highest quality education and healthcare services to state residents. Recommendations include:

  • Creating public-private broadband partnerships;
  • Streamlining the state’s broadband program; and,
  • Providing incentives to increase the availability and adoption of residential and commercial broadband.

Read the report…

In 2014, the Iowa House defeated Gov. Branstad’s plan by a vote of 51-44 due to concerns from both Republicans and Democrats. Although both parties support the expansion of broadband availability, some Republicans were concerned about the generosity of the proposed income and property tax breaks for telecommunication companies. A majority of House Democrats were concerned the governor’s plan would not benefit the most underserved regions of the state, according to an article on govtech.com

In an effort to build public support for broadband deployment across the state, the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) launched the Broadband Matters Campaign – an advocacy and awareness campaign that will “showcase the importance” of broadband development across the state. The initiative will focus on the importance of broadband access for education, public safety, healthcare, and government. The plan also will highlight the economic development benefits of broadband through several informational efforts including a series of videos on the role of broadband in key state industries. ICN is a statewide broadband advocacy group that endorses Gov. Branstad plan. Read the press release…

Iowa, Kentuckybroadband, policy recommendations