| BROADBAND EXPANSION – Trevor Bonstetter (from left), CEO West KY&TN Telecommunications Cooperative; State Rep. Mark Maddox; Kentucky Rural Development State Director Tom Fern; Northwest TN Development District Executive Director John Bucy; RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein; Tennessee RD State Director Bobby Goode; RUS Telecommunications Rep. Terry Kokinda; RD Area Director Harriet Cannon; RD Area Specialist Van Wylie; Weakley County District 1 Commissioner John Salmon; and Delta Regional Authority Alternate Federal Co-Chair Michael Marshall were all on hand for the recent broadband expansion announcement. |
Rural Utilities Service Administrator Jonathan Adelstein last week announced the selection of West Kentucky & Tennessee Telecommunications Cooperative’s (WK&T) as one of eight Kentucky businesses slated to receive funding for broadband projects under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The $123 million project will build a fiber optic network that will bring high-speed broadband capability to every home, business and institution in WK&T’s multi-county service area.
The money will fully fund a “last mile” fiber-to-the-home network that will include 21,000 homes and businesses, plus 99 critical community institutions, such as schools, libraries and public buildings.
Of those included in the project, Palmersville, Latham, rural parts of Dresden and the Chestnut Glade community will be included in the network expansion.
“The West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative has stepped up to ensure that residents of Western Kentucky and Tennessee have broadband service that is second to none,” Administrator Adelstein said.
“This investment will provide new economic opportunities for these communities, along with better access to health care, education, public safety and everything the Internet has to offer.”
Once completed, the fiber network will carry broadband at speeds up to 20 mbps, rivaling anything available in urban areas, according to WK&T CEO Trevor Bonnstetter. WK&T expects to double its number of data subscribers, with approximately 90 percent on broadband at speeds significantly higher than those available now.
“We are extremely honored to be chosen from the thousands of applicants,” Bonnstetter said, “and we look forward to completing this mission and providing our area with the foundation for long-term economic growth.”
The benefits of the new network will be both immediate and far into the future. The technology will enable the high-speed applications of today (“on demand” entertainment, smart home, home monitoring, etc.) as well as those not yet even invented.
Fiber, which lets data travel at the speed of light, is virtually unlimited in bandwidth capacity, and “future proofs” new applications as they come into existence.
“President Obama’s Recovery Act has helped create jobs and lay a new foundation for economic growth during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Rural Development State Director Tom Fern.
“USDA has used Recovery Act funding to create badly-needed jobs and stimulate local economies, help farmers and rural businesses make it through tough times, ensure that struggling families can put food on the table, and build and revitalize critical infrastructure in rural communities across America.”
Broadband is essential for competing in the global economy and will greatly invigorate local economic growth. It also facilitates information sharing and multiple networks in local institutions, which will enhance an area’s ability to respond to emergencies.
The WK&T project is estimated to create 160 new jobs and be complete within the government-mandated three years.
President Obama signed The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 into law on Feb. 17, 2009.
Its purpose was to jumpstart the nation’s economy, create or save millions of jobs and put a down payment on addressing long-neglected challenges so the country can thrive in the 21st century.
The Act includes measures to modernize the nation’s infrastructure, enhance energy independence, expand educational opportunities, preserve and improve affordable health care, provide tax relief and protect those in greatest need.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business, and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in Washington, D.C., and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.