High-speed internet effort launched for rural, underserved communities in Kansas
Kansas launched a new effort to provide broadband service to rural and underserved communities today.
Gov. Laura Kelly established the Office of Broadband Development, which is receiving about $50 million in federal funding that will enable rural and underserved communities to have internet connections for telehealth visits, for remote learning and also to allow more people to work from homes. The office will be in the Kansas Department of Commerce.
It is expected to stimulate economic development in some rural and underserved areas, also, according to officials. Stanley Adams was named to head the new office.
In all, there are 67 projects statewide, many at anchor locations such as schools, health departments, libraries and local governments.
The Unified Government of Wyandotte County will receive a $2.8 million grant for providing fiber to premises and fiber to curb, according to the grant announcement. The project would connect existing UG fiber infrastructure with the cities of Bonner Springs, Edwardsville and Kansas City, Kansas.
According to the grant information, the project would connect fiber to curb at countywide public safety and emergency management locations, supply backbone infrastructure to municipal facilities in Bonner Springs and Edwardsville, connect the three major cities in the county to leverage shared functions, extend capacity to an underserved area of the county, and strengthen the county and state’s regional connectivity to the Greater Kansas City metro area for the Next Gen 9-1-1 dispatch connections and Operation Green Light.
Also in the announcement is a grant of just over $3 million for statewide telehealth efforts at the University of Kansas Health System.
According to the announcement, the grant would fund broadband infrastructure enhancements at 27 Care Collaborative member locations across the state to enable telehealth and telemedicine services for patients. It also would support 250 devices with connectivity for patients who do not have access to telehealth.
Sixty-seven projects were awarded a share of nearly $50 million for broadband infrastructure improvements. The projects are funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund of the federal CARES Act and are part of the connectivity program approved by the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce and the State Finance Council.
To see the governor’s news conference, visit https://www.facebook.com/GovLauraKelly/videos/1265303990488900.