State Rep. Chris Harris appointed to House Special Committee


Rep. Harris

Submitted Article

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Tuesday, Rep. Harris attended the inaugural meeting of the House Special Committee on Advanced Communications and Information Technology. This first meeting focused on KentuckyWired, Kentucky’s broadband initiative to connect all 120 counties to high-speed Internet via fiber optic cable. Work on this project begins next month with Eastern Kentucky as the first phase of construction. This is one initiative to grow out of the Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) initiative.

“Being part of the global economy in the 21st century means that our schools, businesses and homes must have consistent and reliable Internet access. Like an interstate highway, KentuckyWired will bring our communities closer together and connect us with the wider world,” Rep. Harris said.

The committee is charged with exploring the ways technology impacts our economy, education, and communications. They will also make recommendations to the General Assembly for ways to improve and better integrate access across Kentucky.

“When I arrived in Frankfort, I was surprised there was no committee that specifically focused on technology issues given it plays an increasing role in our everyday lives. I’m honored to serve on this committee and offer a perspective from Eastern Kentucky,” Rep. Harris said.

During the meeting, members of the Finance and Administration cabinet updated members on the plans and progress of the $350 million project. They said Kentucky currently ranks 47th in broadband access nationally and only 23% of rural Kentuckians have no access to the Internet.

“Eastern Kentucky has a high cost for broadband compared to other parts of the state,” Rep. Harris said. “Our commitment to turning that reality on its head and making sure we can compete and increase connectivity is critical to our economic future.”

Once completed, data suggests broadband access across the Commonwealth will be available at higher speeds and lower cost to consumers. Local providers will be able to pay for access to the network and focus on growing their customer base.

“I look forward to completion of Phase I in Eastern Kentucky by 2016 and the day when all our children, families, and small businesses can afford reliable Internet access,” Rep. Harris said.

For more information on KentuckyWired, visit KentuckyWired.ky.gov. A map of the proposed transmission lines and nodes is attached.

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