The need for high speed internet is prevalent throughout south and eastern Kentucky, but the need is decreased in some sections of Laurel County.
Thanks to Kinetic by Windstream, approximately 8,980 residents in London and East Bernstadt will have access to internet services through a $2 billion initiative to expand gigabit internet service.
Kinetic officials were joined Monday by Kentucky Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, State Senator Brandon Storm, State Representatives Shane Baker and Derek Lewis, U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers’ communications director Danielle Smoot, The Center for Rural Development President/CEO Lonnie Lawson, Laurel County Judge/Executive David Westerfield, London Mayor Troy Rudder and London-Laurel Chamber of Commerce CEO Deanna Herrmann for a ceremony at the Laurel County Courthouse to celebrate the latest fiber expansion in the Commonwealth.
“Over the past two years, we have seen just how critical reliable, high-speed internet access is to keep Kentuckians connected to work, school, health care, friends and family, and this is especially true for those living in our rural communities,” said Governor Andy Beshear in a press release. “We are grateful for innovative partnerships like this one between Laurel County and Kinetic by Windstream, which will position local residents and businesses to seize future opportunities for success.”
This project will connect approximately 6,640 customers in the city of London and approximately 2,340 customers in the East Bernstadt area to gig-speed (1 gigabit per second download) internet access.
Sen. Storm emphasized the vital importance of quality broadband service to the daily lives of citizens in Laurel County and across Kentucky.
“The General Assembly has prioritized expanding dependable, high-speed internet to Kentuckians who are currently unserved or underserved,” said Sen. Storm. “This exciting project will benefit Laurel Countians in numerous ways — providing students with improved educational supports, increasing economic opportunity for our business community, and better connecting residents to their neighbors and the world.”
Judge Westerfield noted the significant impact this major fiber build will hold for both county residents and tourists alike.
“The Laurel County Fiscal Court is excited to partner with Kinetic by Windstream to make this ambitious project a reality for our community,” said Westerfield. “We pride ourselves on being Kentucky’s ‘Crossroads to Adventure,’ and this cutting-edge broadband expansion will enhance the quality of life for our citizens and increase our capacity to attract and serve our many annual visitors.”
Westerfield introduced Kentucky Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, who said bringing better infrastructure to the state is imperative in its continued success. Coleman has a long list of accomplishments as an educator, basketball coach, author, founder of a non-profit organization and other achievements.
“Public service is a way of life for her,” Westerfield described Coleman. “She was raised to offer a hand-up to those in need and she has dedicated her private and public life to serving those in her community. She is a tireless advocate for public education and strong proponent for young women stepping into leadership roles. As Lt. Governor of Kentucky, she is focused on creating a comprehensive Cradle to Career public education and job training program in Kentucky to provide the future of leaders of the Commonwealth.”
Coleman said Governor Beshear was assisting in emergency operations in western Kentucky that have been hard-hit by flooding and tornadoes over the past three weeks.
“I’ve had 15 national interviews over the last three weeks and at the end of every one of them, the reporters and producers said to me, ‘Wow, Kentucky is a special place. You’ve really come together and what we’ve seen on the ground is amazing.’ That was no surprise to me,” she said. “This pandemic has created a whole new set of challenges for us but it’s also magnified the lack of access of high speed internet. COVID highlighted the need for Kentucky to have internet so we can stay informed, so that we could stay connected whether we’re at school or work or worship or healthcare or other places where it’s needed. When our schools had to close their buildings and transition into NTI, we heard the stories of our students, particularly in our rural areas who were forced to drive to local restaurants to borrow their Wifi. The Beshear administration is dedicated to providing broadband internet to every single Kentuckian. In today’s society it is the way we work, the way we learn, the way we live. Access to broadband is no longer a luxury. It is part of our infrastructure.”
Coleman added that in April 2021, Beshear signed an agreement for $300 billion to bring broadband internet to Kentuckians, which is matched by $300 billion allegation from the federal government. Monday’s announcement was part of a $2 million investment by Kinetic by Windstream that will impact over 9,000 Laurel County residents, and the continued efforts to bring broadband Internet will put Kentucky on the forefront of technology.
Brian Harman, president of Kentucky operations for Windstream, said the fiber build highlights Kinetic’s continued commitment to the Commonwealth.
“Now more than ever, access to reliable, high-speed broadband is essential for commerce, education, telehealth, remote work and overall connectivity,” said Harman. “Kinetic is a trusted partner across the Bluegrass State, and we are proud to deliver world-class internet service to meet the needs of households and businesses in Laurel County — both today and tomorrow.”
As a result of Kinetic’s multi-state network expansion, the company either has or will have fiber in every county it serves in Kentucky over the next couple of years. Since 2019, the company has invested $193 million to expand broadband access in the Commonwealth. Almost 92,000 locations had access to gig speeds at the end of 2020.