"Some telecom and cable companies that now provide Internet service around the state, along with several right-wing advocacy groups, are pushing legislators and Gov. Matt Bevin to rethink the project," writes Eblen, the paper's former managing editor. "AT&T has filed a protest over the state’s process for awarding school Internet service contracts, many of which it now has. The Kentucky Telecom Association, which represents 15 rural Internet providers, thinks KentuckyWired should be reconsidered, claiming it would duplicate existing infrastructure and undermine existing businesses that need their state and school service contracts. The telecoms are getting backup from libertarian advocacy groups that object on principle to government-owned broadband networks." Bevin has not commented.
|Image via Lexington Herald-Leader; click on it for a larger version|
Then-Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat, got the legislature to create KentuckyWired because Kentucky ranks low "nationally for broadband availability, service and cost," Eblen notes. "Complaining about slow, expensive Internet has become almost as popular a topic of statewide conversation as UK basketball." The project was created as part of the bipartisan Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative of Beshear and 5th District U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, chair of the House Appropriations Committee.