Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson is eager to provide faster and more reliable internet services to rural Kansans, so he has established through an executive order, the Kansas Broadband Advisory Task Force. The 24 member advisory group will help implement the state’s “Connect Kansas” broadband initiative. The Secretaries of Agriculture and Commerce have also been asked to serve plus four members will be appointed by legislative leaders.
The Advisory Task Force will develop recommendations to support statewide availability and adoption of broadband services consistent with the 2010 National Broadband Plan. The task force will coordinate input from key stakeholders in the public and private sectors to ensure that Kansas has a competitive advantage through a robust and growing digital economy.
Connect Kansas funded primarily by ARRA has invested $7.2 billion to help states expand broadband access to underserved communities. So far, the Recovery Act has awarded $174 million in grants and loans to expand broadband expansion and adoption project.
Currently, Connect Kansas is mapping the state’s existing high speed internet availability and looking for ways to improve broadband infrastructure. The mapping tool called “Broadband Stat” is near completion and will be launched in a few weeks.
In another development, Kansas had several broadband projects recently selected for USDA Rural Development funding:
• H&B Communications will receive $1,965,455 (loan), $4,586,064 (grant), and $1,637,880 (private investment) to provide high speed broadband to underserved rural communities surrounding Claflin and Ellinwood Kansas plus provide services to other areas in the state
• J.B.N Telephone Company Inc. will receive $1,000,568 (loan) and $2,323,576 (grant) to construct fiber-to-the premises throughout six towns in their eastern exchange area
• South Central Wireless Inc. will receive $560,000 (loan) and $557,621 (grant), and $575,973 (private investment) to construct a fiber-to-the-premise infrastructure for Attica Kansas