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Kansas awarded $43 million for high-speed internet infrastructure development

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Tom Joyce

(The Center Square) - The National Telecommunications Information and Administration awarded the Kansas Office of Broadband Development almost $43 million to create the infrastructure needed to expand affordable high-speed internet to rural areas, according to a press release from Governor Laura Kelly's office.

The "middle mile" infrastructure will connect rural local internet networks to major regional and national networks.

The Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas Department of Transportation, Kansas Research and Education Network, and private internet providers sent the federal government the grant for this project; Governor Kelly sent a separate letter supporting the application. 

“Every day, my administration works to deliver high-speed internet to more Kansas families and businesses,” Kelly said in a press release. “That’s why I supported our application for this grant that will set up the infrastructure needed to reach 27,000 more homes and provide opportunities for economic success across the state.” 

The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funded the Middle Mile Program.

U.S. Representative Sharice Davids, D-Kansas, said the investment will improve education and health care in the state.

“The internet is used to access crucial resources such as employment opportunities, business software capabilities, virtual learning, and health care,” Davids said in the release. “This new federal investment will help close the digital gap and keep our communities connected – particularly those who have not had access to high-speed internet in the past. I am proud to have voted for the bipartisan infrastructure law that continues to make a positive impact on the lives of Kansas families.” 

The grant provides funding for a 682-mile fiber optic network. It will connect Liberal to Garden City, Pratt to Wichita, Kismet to Minneola, Wichita to Pittsburg, and Pittsburg to Overland Park, according to the release.

“Broadband availability is key to supporting our current economic momentum and providing the best quality of life for every Kansan,” Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland said in the release. “This grant will accelerate our infrastructure development across the state, positioning us to achieve Governor Kelly’s goal of becoming a top 10 state for broadband access.” 

Here are some potential benefits of the grant touted by the Kelly administration in the release:

  • Next-generation communications for public safety and transportation 
  • Dedicated fiber network for higher education institutions, public safety organizations, hospitals, and more 
  • Enhanced connectivity for Veterans Affairs facilities 
  • Promotion of economic development 
  • Accelerated expansion to rural households and businesses 
  • Network security and resiliency