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Panelists talk Broadband at the 2021 SOAR Summit

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 3:01 PM EDT
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CORBIN, Ky. (WYMT) - As breathtaking as Eastern Kentucky is, an ongoing problem still lingers.

There is a lack of internet access.

“I think we all understand, now especially through COVID with all of us having to work remotely, go to school remotely, try to make a living remotely that the need for broadband has got to be primary going forward,” said Government Affairs Director for the Kentucky Association of Counties, Shellie Hampton.

Hampton and four other panelists talked about the widespread inconvenience at the 2021 SOAR Summit. They mentioned Kentucky Wired, a pivotal source in fixing this issue.

“It is the backbone that was started several years ago under Governor Steve Beshear’s administration and so what that’s trying to do is just open the doors for providers to hook up whether that’s for schools, for local governments, for businesses and for residents,” she said.

Panelists also said the inclusion of the high-speed broadband through fiber is a innovative solution to a long-standing problem.

“I think that something that well all need to keep in mind is we move forward on these projects is that it not just about accessibility, it’s also about the affordability,” Hampton said. “Once these federal dollars are gone, we have to make sure those lines and that service is maintained and operated.”

While there has been progress, Panelists want people to understand this will take time.

“Here in eastern Kentucky we always go to geography,” said Hampton. “We have a very challenging geography… as gorgeous as it is and so that’s something that’s got to be worked around. I think with the technology advancing as fast as it is, we’ve already shown that we can do that.”

However, the implementation of broadband now will better serve not only the region but generations to come.

“If that’s our goal, come together for that, roll up the sleeves and we’ll figure out a way, I have no doubt… all the faith in the world of eastern Kentucky that we will figure out how to do it,” said Consultant for Legg Strategies, Hilda Legg.

For more information on the Kentucky Wired project, click here.

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