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Lexington Conference Zeroes In On Broadband

Josh James

Advocates for broadband expansion are converging on Lexington this week for a conference dubbed “Fiber for the New Economy.”

Credit Josh James / WUKY

From Mayor Jim Gray’s push to make Lexington a “Gigabit City,” able to support internet speeds a hundred times as fast the current average, to state plans for a new fiber backbone stretching out to underserved parts of the Commonwealth, broadband has become a hot topic in Kentucky.

And this week representatives from the FCC, tech companies, and a host of other organizations are congregating downtown to lay out the benefits and challenges of expanding high-speed internet access. Hilda Legg, vice chair of Broadband Communities magazine, argues what was once a luxury is quickly becoming a necessity.

"When you look at the way the world operates today, the way we live on our cell phones, the transmission of data that we just assimilate into our lives on an hourly basis, versus what we did ten years ago, it's amazing," she says. "So I don't think we want to be left behind."

But critics question whether Kentucky can afford to spend scarce tax dollars on boosting internet speeds and access when pension liabilities and other priorities loom. Supporters counter that the state needs to invest in state-of-the-art internet technology to stay competitive.

A recent national report ranked Kentucky last in the nation for broadband speeds.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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