Brief Intro to ConnectKentucky

KentuckyThanks to Bernadine Joselyn for sending me Wiring rural America, a article published in the Economist last month. I was so excited to get it because I had actually been meaning to learn more about ConnectKentucky.

I learned about ConenctKentucky (a little bit) while listening to a recent senate committee meeting. So, it’s an example that policy makers know about – and one they think works very well.

According to the ConnectKentucky president, 98 percent of Kentucky will have access to inexpensive broadband by the end of the year. It sounds as if one of their first steps was to map interest and demand for broadband access. So smart in that a) helps you build a business plan and b) helps provide education that builds demand.

Kentucky is a shining star – and apparently they are bridging out to provide the same services to West Virginia and Tennessee. The article goes on to say that the rest of the US has not been as successful and one of the reasons is that some of the money intended to support rural broadband through the RUS (Rural Utilities Service) has gone to suburban areas that didn’t really need it.

I’m sure that’s true I’ve certainly heard it before – but I think/hope that the FCC and the RUS are starting to recognize the potential of that problem and are trying to be more careful about who gets the funding. Mostly I enjoyed the article for the brief description of ConnectKentucky.

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About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

3 thoughts on “Brief Intro to ConnectKentucky

  1. ConnectKentucky is simply a front for protecting the interests of incumbent telephone and cable companies. The very idea that they have some claim to the proliferation of broadband in Kentucky is laughable. Broadband, if one can even call DSL broadband, is available in Kentucky due to the vigorous lead exerted by several municipalities in Kentucky. The big telephone and cable companies have responded, as Adam Smith predicted in 1776 when Smith noted that: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.”, by starting the process of upgrading their networks as competitive pressures have been brought to bear. Although Smith had no idea what a broadband network was, he was still accurately describing the perfect model for broadband deployment. If a community wants more bandwidth than the local telephone or cable company wants to deploy, then they should be totally free to deploy it themselves and attempt to interrupt the telephone or cable company’s “interest.”

    Now ConnectKentucky wants to claim credit for what the marketplace hath wrought, and they also are determined to convince the Commonwealth of Kentucky to finance their efforts. They spend their time going around the state asking local decision-makers to participate in their sham “county planning” while their real mission is to wrap themselves in a false cloak of altruism so no one will notice when they try to annex our state legislature for their benefit. They would like for the Kentucky legislature to fund their snake oil wagon so the “poor” members of the coalition (the incumbent telephone companies and their stock holders) don’t have to continue paying for their “groundbreaking” activity. Further, they see themselves as such geniuses that their model should be spread far and wide in other states. What a joke!

    Even now they are planning a piece of legislation and seeking the support of the leadership of the Kentucky Legislature for this ridiculous legislation. They want tax breaks for their members (the big telephone companies like AT&T and WindStream and other similarly well heeled corporations) while shutting out any similar support for the real Kentucky innovators, the municipalities who have spent their own money building real broadband networks while the telecommunications giants simply look for ways to line their pockets at the expense of the people of Kentucky.

    This bill attempts to allow the big telephone and cable companies to keep 15% of the tax revenue you pay on your telephone and cable bills each month. You see, they need this extra money to pay for the “huge” investments they are making in Kentucky to deliver broadband services to you and me. The bill then would have the State paying everyone who buys broadband services for the first time (from those same rich telephone and cable companies) a $250 reward. That’s right, they want taxpayers to help them build their networks and then have the State pay folks to connect to that network and start paying the phone company charges for the services. I’m telling you, you cannot even make this stuff up!

    Everyone should contact their state legislators and ask them to oppose ConnectKentucky’s latest attempt to feather their own nest. If there are excess state funds to help build more broadband networks (and we really doubt that there are), at least make sure that the municipally owned, not-for-profit networks have an equal chance to benefit from those funds. In fact, why not let any incentives go directly to the consumers to help them pay for broadband services instead of sending the money to the telephone companies? The new ConnectKentucky bill would need to be radically altered to allow that to happen, but it sure would be a much better bill if it did.

  2. William,

    Thanks for your interesting perspective. I just checked out the ConnectKentucky web site and I can see that their partners include a mix of very big tech companies (Microsoft, Cisco, AT&T), smaller or regional tech companies (Wild Blue, SouthEast Telephone, FTI) and nonprofits (Appalachian Regional Commission, Kentucky Government, Kentucky State University).

    I know very little about the ConnectKentucky effort – except that they are a model that many legislators know – which means either they are doing something right and/or they have some heavy-hitting lobbyists. I’ll have to keep an eye on the legislature in Kentucky – because for better or for ill, the decisions made there will be heard by many.

    Thanks again for a perspective from someone closer to the ConnectKentucy project!

  3. Pingback: Talking to Connected Nation « Blandin on Broadband

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