Government and business representatives are in Lexington this week for the Fiber for the New Economy Conference. Among the issues discussed at the meeting is the expansion of broadband into eastern Kentucky. Urban County Government Chief Information Officer Aldona Valicenti says local governments will pay a cost for the growth. “And that last mile still will need additional investment and that will depend on what companies are willing to invest and what the cities can do in eastern Kentucky,” said Valicenti.
The last mile refers to linking individual homes and businesses with large broadband points in each county. Valicenti says that may work out to be a public-private partnership. But, she says the goal to further local economies will be to deliver more information much faster.
Among the conference attendees is Darrel Maynard with Eastern Telephone Technologies. Maynard has 30 years of experience in computer technology. He suspects that economic growth through expanded broadband could be found in homes as well as factories. “Since our nation is a service organization, it is much easier for somebody to work for a service organization remotely than manufacturing remotely,” said Maynard.
Maynard believes the expansion of broadband into eastern Kentucky could one day help offset job losses in the coal industry. He believes widespread economic gains through broadband expansion are years away. “Obviously, it would be great if it was right away, but this could be a twenty year project for every community," he explained. "It’s a little bit like bringing water to a county.,”
Maynard says it took years to expand the public water system in his native Pike County. The Fiber for the New Economy Conference wraps up Friday.