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Surprise! KentuckyWired Won’t Be Done In 2018

August 3, 2016

Kentucky FlagAccording to @CN2, a news network in Kentucky, the state’s statewide government-owned fiber optic broadband network is behind schedule. Officials originally thought the project would be complete some time in 2018. The news network now reports, “The first phase of the project, which includes Frankfort, Louisville, northern Kentucky, and areas of rural southeastern Kentucky, are now anticipated to be completed by the first quarter of 2019.”

This news is hardly surprising—government officials are often far too optimistic is their estimates for how long ambitious taxpayer-funded networks will take to build.

What happened? Officials mistakenly thought the rights of way needed to access utility polls were mostly owned by government entities. Kentucky Communications Network Authority Executive Director Chris Moore said, “They anticipated that a lot of them would be public right-of-ways, not privately owned, and of the privately owned, they miscounted thinking that a lot of them were owned by electric utilities and other entities, but it turns out that a lot more of them were owned by” private sector companies.

This oversight is also hardly surprising—as the Coalition for the New Economy has routinely argued, government officials generally don’t have the expertise to design, build, and operate highly complex fiber optic broadband networks.

KentuckyWired still has an estimated price tag of $324.4 million, $30 million of which will come from state general funds bonds, $23.5 million of which will come from federal taxpayers in the form of grants, and $271 million that will come from private sector investors. As @CN2 explains, KentuckyWired will “serve other public sector organizations, like public libraries and public school districts” and will be “open access” so cities, partners, businesses or other groups can link to it. It will not provide service directly to consumers.

KentuckyWired has already run into several problems, including budget issues, since the project was announced a couple of years ago. Read the Coalition for the New Economy’s past posts on KentuckyWired here, here, and here.