ASHLAND, Ky. - Reliable internet access has never been more important.
KentuckyWired CEO Rob Morphonios realizes the pressure is on for his company to complete a project that will serve all 120 counties in the Commonwealth.
By April, essentially every student in Kentucky was attempting to learn virtually as in-person instruction ceased because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are offering that option this fall — but internet access is a must.
Factor in two more of the three E’s to go along with education — employment and economy — and one can see why Morphonios is eager to see the project through to completion.
According to kentuckywired.ky.gov, KentuckyWired is a state-run project constructing more than 3,000 miles of high-speed, high-capacity fiber optic cable in every county in Kentucky.
Morphonios envisions eventual economic development statewide.
“If you talk to anybody that works in economic development, one of the key things an area needs to facilitate business for their residents and also to attract new business in is good internet access,” said Morphonios, the CEO since spring of 2017. “We’re the first big step to solving that.”
A fully state-owned network, KentuckyWired’s goal is to provide high-speed internet.
“We have to make this as efficient as possible,” Morphonios said during a phone interview with The Daily Independent. “I think we’ve gotten over some big hurdles and I want everyone to know the project is progressing toward completion well.”
At one point, one of the aforementioned “big hurdles” was lack of funding. In April 2018, Morponios said KentuckyWired was in danger of unraveling.
Morphonios said KentuckyWired has initiated a grassroots movement in each county, contacting local service providers and local governments about how everyone can access the network. He’s referring to both Internet Service Providers and cellular suppliers.
Most of the “heavy lifting” of the construction is finished, he assured. He said the network is built to have redundancy, which means it can still work in spite of certain issues — like a generator keeping the lights on even with electricity out.
The three-year CEO said he’s already receiving positive feedback from those starting to use it.
“It’s quick, fast, reliable,” he said. “We hope that translates to local customers and businesses.”
Added Morphonios: “I think it’s a great project for this state. Yes, it has an up-front cost. Over time, with the sale of the additional capacity that we’ve built, it will start to pay for itself.”
The KentuckyWired network, according to its website, is a “middle mile” project connecting government offices, universities, community colleges, state police posts, state parks and other government institutions to the global internet.
Vist kentuckywired.ky.gov for more information.