Fiber internet holds better future for Boyle County

Published 8:13 pm Tuesday, February 5, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

It was no surprise that cell-phone reception was a major topic of conversation when Boyle County elected officials visited Forkland last week to hear from local residents. The lack of connectedness for the western portion of Boyle County is a big deal.

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Residents are currently caught in a catch-22: They want and need law enforcement to respond when crimes are being committed, but they often find themselves unable to make the necessary phone call to alert law enforcement in the first place.

That’s because in addition to having next to no cell-phone service in the knobs, landline telephone service can be problematic as well.

There isn’t really a lot local officials can do about cell-phone service; the decision to expand service and build more towers is one left to the private companies running the cellular networks. Local officials can maintain a professional and transparent relationship with cell companies and work with them when they express interest in adding new towers, but that’s about the extent of it.

When it comes to building connectedness for western and southern Boyle County in another way, however, local officials could do quite a bit.

The massive fiber internet project KentuckyWired should eventually result in a blazingly fast, ultra-high-capacity internet connection point at the Boyle County Courthouse. Once that happens, the ball will be in Boyle County’s hands. The county could partner with private internet service providers or undertake a project on its own to build out from that point into the western end of the county.

However it gets there, a strong internet connection in Boyle’s rural areas could change a lot. People with internet-based jobs could work from home; entrepreneurs could run tech companies from western Boyle County; patients could video chat with doctors; people could call the cops using internet-based phone lines.

It could even benefit property values. For more and more people, access to high-speed internet is a deal-breaking requirement when choosing a home. The addition of rural high-speed internet would make Boyle County properties more attractive and desirable, meaning they would become more valuable.

Boyle County should be preparing now for what it wants to do when KentuckyWired gets here.

The general lack of interest so far from private companies in helping western Boyle County residents with better cellular and landline infrastructure is concerning; why would it be any different when it comes to building out fiber-optic infrastructure?

It may be left to Boyle County to become an internet service provider for its rural (and even urban) residents.

Whichever path is chosen, it will require officials to educate themselves now; make long-term plans for the future; and be prepared to spend some money when the future gets here.