Broadband for all of Jessamine County is coming soon

Published 11:00 am Monday, June 5, 2023

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Broadband Internet access will soon be available to every household in Jessamine County.

Due to its approval by the Jessamine County Fiscal Court in early May, a contract between Charter Spectrum and Jessamine County will bring fiber that can carry a gig of service to all households in the county.

Per the contract, the Jessamine County Fiscal Court will contribute $1,103,059 in ARPA monies, leaving the county with about $8 million left in ARPA funds. Charter Spectrum committed to contributing $800,900,000 for the project.

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According to Judge-Executive David West, the project will be completed over three years. But, residents won’t have to wait that long for connectivity. After an area is completed, residents will be able to sign up for service through Charter Spectrum or another provider if offered.

“It’s important to note too that this doesn’t preclude any other carrier from also offering servicing,” West said.

Charter Spectrum will update the county’s existing infrastructure by running fiber throughout the utility pole system – primarily owned by LG&E and KU. West said the internet provider would be installing fiber in every area without high-speed internet.

“They are actually going to go out and drive every mile of road we have, and while they do that, they look for homes, they look for driveways off road, they look for poles that they have to attach to and they get agreements with pole owners,” West said.

And if, for some reason, Charter Spectrum does miss a household, residents will have six months after the project is completed to contact them or the Fiscal Court to request that they fix that.

“We’re going be building out our service everywhere, but there’s no requirement that they have to sign up with us. As we build it, we’ll walk by and let people know that the service is coming, and if they want to sign up at that time we’ll hook them up, and that’s kind of how that will go,” said Charter Spectrum Government Affair Director, Ben U’Sellis.

West said that it has been helpful that the federal and state government has put aside large sums of money to assist with the accessibility of the nation’s new utility – high-speed internet connection.

“Water access happened a long time ago under Judge-Executive Mike Cassidy. They realized the need for that utility to be spread throughout the county. That was done years ago, but at one time people had wells and cisterns and septic tanks and now there is public water spread throughout the entire county,” he said.

Because of this project, businesses and area youth will benefit.

“We will be able to help children that need access to school, business owners,” West said. “It’s just helpful to everybody to have an internet connection. COVID kind of shone a light on this when the kids were sent home and had to do school virtually, and there were a great number of children, not just in Jessamine County or Kentucky, that couldn’t complete their school work because they didn’t have adequate (Internet) connections.”

Some Jessamine County residents have previously benefited from a broadband expansion grant through Windstream Kinetic, but there are still 2,545 homes and businesses in the county that require a quality connection.

This newer effort by Charter Spectrum started within the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) in January 2022. Lexington’s Chief Information Officer, Aldona Valicenti, was working on a rural broadband study for Fayette County’s unserved rural areas.

In a presentation of her research, she proposed the city consider a regional broadband approach since covering more rural communities would allow the city access to more funding and support from the state government.

That consideration came to life, and now several central Kentucky counties are working on contracts with Charter Spectrum to expand broadband access, including Fayette, Jessamine, Scott, Clark, Madison and Bourbon counties.