Telecom Industry Deregulation Leads to Broadband Availability for Kentucky’s Rural Communities
No longer does living in a rural area mean limited opportunities. High-speed Internet access is giving rural Kentuckians improved access to education, healthcare and economic opportunities. As a nonprofit, independent organization dedicated to technology-based economic development, ConnectKentucky worked during the 2006 legislative session to promote a package of broadband bills that were passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Ernie Fletcher. These bills will help Kentucky reach its goal of 100 percent broadband coverage by 2007, which will create more jobs and a better quality of life for all Kentuckians.
House Bill 337, The Emerging Technology and Consumer Choice Act of 2006, deregulated most retail telephone services, with the exception of basic phone line services. The bill allows telephone providers to compete on an even playing field with unregulated phone, cable and Internet providers. The end result is that telecom companies, freed from the burden of regulation, now have an environment that is more conducive to investment in rural broadband deployment.
In May, Kentucky’s local telephone companies announced that in 2006, high-speed broadband service will be expanded to more than 530 new locations across the state reaching more than 63,000 previously unserved Kentucky households.
Broadband availability and usage is directly linked to a state's capacity to improve healthcare, expand education opportunities and the potential for economic development and job growth. This linkage is the basis for Gov. Ernie Fletcher’s Prescription for Innovation, which encourages investment in the state's telecommunications infrastructure.
Kentucky has led the nation in broadband growth over the past two years with unprecedented growth of availability and adoption across all sectors of the economy. Progressive public telecom policy like HB 337 continues to move Kentucky forward by encouraging fair and open competition and innovation and investment for the benefit of consumers.