Rural Kentucky Gets Connected

<p>The rural communities of Kentucky are wiring up, and a statewide effort to convince rural residents of the benefits of internet access expects nearly 98% of the state to have internet access by the end of the year.</p>
September 14, 2007, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Largely rural, Kentucky is best known for its bourbon and horse racing; it rarely ranks in the top tier of states on any measure of 21st-century success. According to Brian Mefford, president of ConnectKentucky, a public-private partnership, a few years ago the state had among the lowest rates of broadband availability in the country. Internet service providers could not be sure that there were enough Lajuana Wilchers in the Kentucky countryside to justify new investment in cabling or wireless transmitters."

"But by the end of this year, Mr Mefford boasts, 98% of residents will have access to inexpensive broadband services. This is primarily because of ConnectKentucky's effort to map broadband demand in communities that didn't have access, he says, which indicated that enough people in Kentucky farm country would sign up if providers entered the market. At the same time, the organisation also talked up high-speed internet services to sceptical residents, creating demand where it was slack. Once isolated Kentuckians can now consult with doctors in faraway cities or telecommute."

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Published on Thursday, September 13, 2007 in The Economist
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