June 30, 2016
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin announced earlier this month that his administration is “scaling back the scope” of KentuckyWired, the state’s government-owned broadband network. According to StateScoop, instead of providing broadband access to the whole state, now the project will focus on the “limited regions [in Kentucky] that lack internet access.” (Almost 100 percent of Kentuckians have access to mobile broadband while 93.5 percent have access to wireline service.) Bevin’s administration will work with Macquarie Capital, which is overseeing the project, to execute the change in scope.
Gov. Bevin explained his decision by arguing that, “while it’s admirable” to try to cover the whole state, when “you try to be everything to everybody, you end up being nothing to anybody.”
StateScoop interviewed Bluegrass Institute President Jim Waters, a strong opponent of KentuckyWired, after the governor’s announcement. Waters explained why trying to cover the whole state is wasteful. He said, “We’re asking taxpayers to fund and subsidize a network that duplicates an existing network … And, there’s only a very small percentage of Kentuckians who don’t have access to broadband service.”
The governor’s office did not reveal when the scaled-back KentuckyWired system would be complete.
Kentucky’s governor is not the only one who is pulling back from government-owned broadband. As the Coalition for the New Economy reported earlier this week, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory released a plan last week that called for universal statewide broadband access by 2021, but opposed the creation of municipal broadband networks.
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