The KentuckyWired broadband internet network has passed a major milestone, with data now flowing through a segment that connects the state’s most populous areas.
State officials announced Monday that government sites will soon begin using the network, which can also be leased to private companies to help offset the $1.5 billion taxpayers will ultimately have pay for it over the next 30 years.
A spokesperson for the network said that a variety of companies are waiting to lease parts of the network, including “global communications providers, banking intuitions, wireless carriers, health care and media content companies.”
Parts of KentuckyWired were supposed to go live in 2016, but the state has had trouble obtaining right-of-way agreements and permissions to hang fiber-optic cable from privately-owned telephone poles.
The delays have added about $100 million to the project’s total cost. Whether the network is live or not, the state is required to pay about $30 million per year to private partners who helped finance the project.
The completed segment of the network connects Kentucky’s most populous areas—Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky—and will be used to provide internet to state government buildings in Frankfort.
Officials announced last month that construction of the network’s two eastern Kentucky segments have been finished and now say that they will be fully operational before Christmas.
The entire 3,000 mile network is now scheduled to be complete by October 2020.
The structure of the KentuckyWired project has been criticized by some Republican leaders of the state legislature, who say that the contract of the public-private partnership put too much risk on the state.
Last year, State Auditor Mike Harmon released a special examination of the project that said state officials in former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration were warned about problems with the project before launching it.