Sep. 13—GREENUP — Greenup became the third local county on Tuesday to announce fiber internet will be available to businesses and residences.
The announcement from Kinetic (Windstream) means that approximately 7,400 homes and businesses in Russell and surrounding parts of Greenup County will be equipped for high-speed fiber internet by the end of the year.
This will be the third time in five weeks that Kinetic has announced multimillion-dollar optical fiber construction projects to establish high-speed broadband in eastern Kentucky.
With Gov. Andy Beshear it announced Aug. 29 that it was equipping some 19,000 Boyd County homes and businesses with high-speed fiber and separately Aug. 10 that it was doing the same for another 1,400 Carter County customers.
The three construction announcements mean Kinetic has committed to equipping about 28,000 homes and businesses in the three-county cluster within the next three months.
Russell Mayor Ron Simpson, who is also a school bus driver, said that he was amazed to learn how many students did not have dependable internet available to them.
The announcement from Kinetic was something that would remedy that void, he said, and help both urban and rural areas connect.
"We really appreciate what you're doing," he said. "And thank you from the City of Russell."
The upgraded service will help students catch up from where they had fallen behind during the pandemic.
Greenup County Judge-Executive Robert Carpenter agreed with Mayor Simpson on the need to bring rural areas closer to the coverage in urban areas.
"There are a lot of people in the county that don't have coverage," Carpenter said. "They can't get any of this until we start spreading it out through the county. and we have to do that."
Carpenter said he sees the Kinetic fiber internet as both a welcome addition to the county, and as a wake-up call for more to be done in rural areas.
Kinetic state operations President Brian Harman said the project will be completed in October, and as in Boyd and Carter Counties it is 100% funded by Windstream.
"Strong public/private partnerships are critical in closing the divide in rural areas that would otherwise be too expensive to serve with fiber," Harman said. "That's why Windstream participates at the federal, state and local level to make fiber broadband the right solution for rural America."
State Rep. Danny Bentley (R-98th District) said he was glad to be a part of sharing wonderful news for the county. Bentley said the new access will be a "game changer" for everyone and opens new access to education, employment, health care and entertainment — including UK ball games, he added.
"When this project is complete it will add 152 miles of fiber cable," Bentley said.
"Access to broadband is the great equalizer," he said, and will improve the county's ability to compete on a state and national level in education and employment, and help facilitate population growth. "And we appreciate what Windstream is doing with this project."
SOAR Director Colby Hall said that if one thing was learned during the pandemic, it was that broadband was not a luxury but a necessity.
"Our mission at SOAR is to focus on the best version of eastern Kentucky and the region, and broadband internet is at the top of the list that makes that possible. We focus on this on a 'house to house' basis," Hall said of that improvement. "And this project helps us check 7,400 of those houses off the list."
With the Greenup County announcement, Kinetic has committed to equipping about 28,000 homes and businesses in the three-county cluster within the next three months.
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