Gov. Beshear Requests Input from Broadband Providers Ahead of Better Kentucky Plan Internet Expansion
Extending broadband access to unserved communities expected to create 10,000 jobs
Frankfort, KY (STL.News) Gov. Andy Beshear requested input from broadband providers as he launched the next phase of his Better Kentucky Plan, which will bring internet access to more families across the commonwealth who need it through the Kentucky Broadband Deployment Fund.
The $1.3 billion Better Kentucky Plan will create 14,500 jobs in the commonwealth; an estimated 10,000 of those jobs will be connected to broadband expansion.
“COVID-19 demonstrated just how critical it is for all Kentuckians to have reliable internet access to stay informed, safe and connected,” said Gov. Beshear. “This is the first step toward strategically using these funds to support the construction, development or improvement of broadband access across the commonwealth, with our unserved communities receiving first priority.”
Through a Request for Information (RFI), the state is soliciting ideas, suggestions and comments from broadband providers, which will be collected and used in determining the types of questions to be included in the upcoming formal Request for Proposals (RFP). The input will also help determine other conditions providers must meet to receive an award from the fund.
The RFI will remain open until 3:30 p.m. EDT on Monday, July 12, 2021 and may be found on the state’s vendor self-service portal.
Under House Bill 320 and House Bill 382, a bipartisan agreement signed into law by Gov. Beshear, Kentucky’s Broadband Deployment Fund will assist private sector entities and governmental agencies in the cost of constructing the “last mile” of broadband access to unserved and underserved households and businesses across Kentucky.
The fund includes $300 million in state dollars earmarked to address the connectivity needs of these communities, including $250 million for the construction of broadband infrastructure to connect unserved and underserved areas – no more than $50 million of which may be awarded before April 1, 2022 – and $50 million for economic development opportunities.
Broadband networks owned, operated or affiliated with local governments, nonprofits and cooperatives, as well as private providers with a focus on serving entire communities, are encouraged to respond.
Responses to the RFI may include application requirements, applicant qualifications, project areas, data reflecting the geographic areas of unserved communities and other information that will assist in the development of the RFP.
The Better Kentucky Plan is a bi-partisan agreement appropriating funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. In addition to the Broadband Deployment Fund, the Better Kentucky Plan will include: $250 million to improve water infrastructure across the state, creating approximately 3,800 jobs; $127 million for local school districts to fund construction and renovation projects, which – along with other Better Kentucky Plan investments in education – could create up to 1,000 jobs; and more.
Submitting Input Through the RFI
Until 3:30 p.m. EDT on Monday, July 12, 2021, the RFI may be found on the state’s vendor self-service portal.
If a provider has a User ID and password, log on with those credentials. If a provider is not registered with the Commonwealth, click on Guest Access on the upper left side of the screen.
Then, click on the Solicitations tab to see a list of solicitations available and their status. Use the keyword search field at the top, middle of the page and search by keyword “broadband” or the RFI number “2100000013.” Click on the Details box and then on the Attachments tab. There, a provider will be able to access the links to download the solicitation and all of the attachments associated with it.
For assistance with the e-procurement site, contact the Customer Resource Center at Finance. CRCGroup@ky.gov or phone at 502-564-9641 or toll-free 877-973-HELP (4357). The Help Desk is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. EDT.