Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Governor Beshear announces grant to provide broadband access to Eastern Kentucky region

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, November 03, 2009  
Contact Information:  Jill Midkiff
Sarah Baird

Grant to bring broadband service to Breathitt, Estill, Lee and Powell counties

BEATTYVILLE, Ky. - Governor Steve Beshear joined with Department for Local Government Commissioner Tony Wilder and ConnectKentucky Executive Director René True today to announce the launch of the “Coal to Broadband: Making the Transition, Making the Connection,” program, which will help bring broadband service to Breathitt, Estill, Lee and Powell counties.

“Through the work of Internet providers statewide and the Department for Local Government, Kentucky serves as a national model of how Internet access can enhance the quality of life for individuals, businesspeople and entire communities,” said Gov. Beshear. “However, we still have room for improvement, especially in our rural areas. Through the launch of the ‘Coal to Broadband’ program, the Commonwealth is moving one step closer toward ensuring that every Kentuckian has readily available online access.”

All four of the grant’s impacted counties are in the bottom 25 counties in Kentucky for broadband availability. Breathitt and Lee counties are the two lowest served counties in the state, both with below 50 percent availability of broadband to the home. What’s more, nearly 7,000 homes in Breathitt, Estill, Lee and Powell counties do not have high-speed Internet available at home.

“Providing the tools and resources necessary for all Kentuckians to succeed in this global economy is an utmost priority,” said Commissioner Tony Wilder. “With the enhanced Internet access from the ‘Coal to Broadband’ program, we will not only be providing economic possibilities, but a whole new means by which people can achieve personal growth through increased educational opportunities.”

“Coal to Broadband” will help ensure that these counties move toward more accessible and widespread broadband connections. The program will use multi-county coal severance dollars along with Appalachian Regional Commission funds for an economic development project to bring broadband access to the four county eastern Kentucky region.

ConnectKentucky will serve as technical adviser on the project, working with the newly formed nonprofit, the Breathitt, Estill, Lee, Powell Regional Technology Authority (RTA).

“ConnectKentucky is proud to be joining Governor Beshear and the Department for Local Government in the announcement of the ‘Coal to Broadband’ project. This project is going to help bring high-speed Internet service to families and businesses in four counties where it is desperately needed and will play an important role in diversifying the region’s economy,” said René True, Executive Director of ConnectKentucky.