OPINION: Is it time to pull the plug on Ky Wired?

In what is certainly a long overdue measure, the Kentucky Wired initiative is finally being closely examined to determine what went wrong and where the state goes from here.

It is no secret the ambitious public-private partnership to establish statewide high-speed Internet service has been beset by delays and cost overruns. Now, Kentucky Wired is the subject of two separate investigations.

It’s about time.

Kentucky Wired was touted as a 3,200-mile broadband network across the state, including some unserved or underserved locations, established by former Gov. Steve Beshear.  Although its completion date was originally set for 2018, only 708 miles have been built, putting it 18 months to two years behind schedule, according to our news partners at Kentucky Today.

The original cost was $324 million, but a host of delays and obstacles have lead to an $188 million cost overrun with less than a third of it completed.

In a late measure adopted as House Resolution 337, the legislation calls upon the Program Review and Investigations Committee to probe Kentucky Wired, “including but not limited to the manner by which it was evaluated for feasibility, authorized, contracted, and implemented,” according to the language of the resolution.

This is a bipartisan panel consisting of lawmakers from the House and Senate.

Another examination is also being handled by State Auditor Mike Harmon’s office.

We need to look at this program very closely to determine what went wrong and the best way to move forward.

We have a long way to go.

Over the next two years, Kentucky is facing payments to the private partners to the tune of nearly $68 million, but if the state opts out of the project now there’s an estimated cost of nearly $500 million.

We need quick action and clear analysis to determine the best course forward.

High-speed Internet is critical to Kentucky’s future but we have to correct course smartly and responsibly.

 

Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper’s editorial board. The board is comprised of publisher Michael Caldwell and managing editor Whitney Leggett. To inquire about a meeting with the board, contact Caldwell at 759-0095