State accepts proposals from broadband providers to expand Internet access
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ / Press Release) – Broadband service providers are urged to complete their applications and submit proposals to help Kentucky expand Internet access to unserved communities across the state.
“In today’s technology-dependent society, access to reliable high-speed internet can no longer be considered a luxury reserved for those who can afford it. In fact, broadband is critical to our future economic growth, especially in areas of the state previously deemed uneconomic to serve, ”Governor Andy Beshear said. “Over the past 18 months, we have seen how essential reliable internet access is to keep us all informed, safe and connected at work, school, healthcare, friends and family. . And now we turn to our broadband community to tell us how they would use the available funds to support the construction, development or improvement of broadband access across the Commonwealth, with our unserved communities receiving the first priority. “
By bipartite agreements, the Kentucky’s best plan and the passage of bills at the end of the 2021 legislative session, the state will direct funds from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) to stimulate the state’s economy by building new schools , by providing drinking water and expanding access to broadband.
The Finance and Administration Cabinet issued a request for proposals (RFP) for $ 50 million in federal ARPA funds allocated to provide Internet access to those who need it most through the Kentucky Broadband Deployment Fund.
the Call for tenders will remain open until October 25, 2021. The Kentucky Governor and General Assembly have agreed to allocate $ 300 million from part of ARPA’s State Tax Relief Fund for broadband expansion . The first $ 50 million of broadband deployment funds can be awarded by April 2022.
Governor Beshear previously issued a request for information (RFI) in June seeking ideas, suggestions and comments on how to distribute the funds to expand internet access. More than two dozen interested parties responded to the RFP and these comments were used to develop the formal RFP.
Through this competitive bidding process, the state solicits bids from broadband networks owned, operated or affiliated with local governments, non-profit organizations and cooperatives, as well as private providers aimed at serving entire communities. Proposals will be accepted until October 25 and will be assessed on the basis of applicants’ ability to meet the defined conditions in order to receive funding. The RFP is available on the website of the State supplier self-service portal.
Under Bill 320 and Bill 382, the Kentucky Broadband Deployment Fund will help private sector entities and government agencies meet the cost of building the “last mile” of broadband access to unserved and underserved households and businesses in Kentucky.
The fund includes $ 300 million to meet the connectivity needs of these communities, including $ 250 million for building broadband infrastructure to connect unserved and underserved areas – of which no more than $ 50 million can be awarded before April 1, 2022 – and $ 50 million for economic development opportunities.
Combined with at least 50% of the required matching federal investments, a minimum of $ 600 million will support broadband expansion in Kentucky, creating more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs. Coupled with the recent Broadband Speed Test, Access Mapping, and the KentuckyWired Project, the Commonwealth has the potential to be at the forefront of nationwide broadband expansion.
In addition to the Broadband Deployment Fund, the Better Kentucky Plan will include: $ 250 million for improve hydraulic infrastructure across the state, creating approximately 3,800 jobs; $ 127 million for local school districts to fund construction and renovation projects, which – along with other Better Kentucky Plan investments in education – could create up to 1,000 jobs; and more.
Until 3:30 p.m. on October 25, the RFP can be viewed on the state website supplier self-service portal.
Providers who have a user ID and password must log in with these credentials. If a supplier is not registered to do business with the Commonwealth, they can click on “Guest Access” in the upper left corner of the screen.
From there, interested parties should click on the Solicitations tab to see a list of available business opportunities and their status. Use the keyword search box at the top middle of the page and search by keyword “broadband” or the RFP number “758 2200000038-2021”. By clicking on the Details box then on the Attachments tab, a supplier will be able to access the links to download the solicitation and all the attachments associated with it.
For assistance with the e-procurement site, contact the Customer Resource Center at [email protected] or call 502-564-9641 or toll free 877-973-AIDE (4357). The Help Desk is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.