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A preliminary Kentucky Communications Network Authority map shows Glasgow's position where two "rings" of the Kentucky Wired broadband Internet network meet. Image courtesy of KCNA

Powers, Mitchell G (KCNA)

GLASGOW – Glasgow sits at “a critical juncture” in the infrastructure of the Kentucky Wired project, said Phillip Brown, executive director for the Kentucky Communications Network Authority, the entity created to oversee it.

Brown said the city is the southwest point in Ring 3 and the southeast point of Ring 4, so it is the backbone, or meeting place, for those rings.

The broadband network is primarily meant to provide increased internet speeds and capacity for state and county government entities.

With an agreement approved in December by the Glasgow Electric Plant Board and another one with the City of Glasgow nearly ready to sign after a few months of negotiations and tweaks, according to Brown and City Attorney Rich Alexander, engineering can begin to determine exact routing, which poles will be needed, etc.

Alexander said Wednesday that all of the last changes had been approved by the authority that he wanted made to the contract for the city, so he will have a final version ready for the city council's consideration at its next meeting Jan. 22.

GEPB Superintendent Billy Ray said at the board meeting when that agreement was under consideration that once Kentucky Wired provided those more detailed plans, “It's our job to look at the route they want to be on and then survey all those poles, measure and find out if there's space, calculate and find out if the wind loading is such that another cable on there would put the pole in danger, and come back with an estimate of how many hundred thousand dollars it's going to cost to make our poles ready for [them] to attach to. Then they'll either pay it or pick another route.”

Brown said the next 12 months would be for planning and “make-ready” engineering, and the bulk of construction, in terms of fiber being hung, would probably occur in 2019.

The processes always take longer than people want them to, he said.

Rings 1A, 1B and 2 still have to be done before they make their way over to 3, he said.

“The original schedule for the project was incredibly aggressive,” Brown said, adding that it seemed to be based on an assumption that everything would go right, but it's a complex undertaking with a total of 3,200 miles of fiberoptic cable anticipated.

“That's what gives us the ability to touch every county in the commonwealth,” Brown said.

The sites on the list that are slated as direct users are : Southcentral Kentucky Community & Technical College and Western Kentucky University's Glasgow campuses, the Glasgow State Nursing Facility, Cabinet for Health and Family Services offices, Department of Corrections offices, Department of Public Advocacy offices, the Barren Circuit Court clerk office and the Barren County clerk's office. In addition, Barren County and Glasgow high schools and Caverna Independent Schools are listed as sites for "outside plant" only.

The original plan included kindergarten through 12th grade education in the list of sites, Brown said, but there was some question about whether it would interfere with eligibility for certain federal subsidies for school connectivity if they used Kentucky Wired's network. Until that issue gets resolved, "we're building as close as we can without installing equipment or connecting it inside the schools themselves," he explained.

The other half of the network is surplus capacity that would be leased to private-sector companies that need more capacity, and then they would be able to provide that service to anyone, Brown said.

“So we would not be competing with local broadband providers [for residential or business customers],” he said. “That was a question in a lot of places around the state, and the answer is 'no.'”

The government locations using the service would get approximately quadruple their current speeds at the same price, he said. The state is essentially providing broadband service to itself, which gives them more control over it.

“The network is designed to be as robust and useful in 30 years as it is now,” Brown said, adding that plans are already built in for updates at the 10- and 20-year marks.

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