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The following is a guest contribution from Sandi Curd who works for Fahe Member Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation.  Sandi serves as the Kentucky Promise Zone Coordinator for southeastern Kentucky which is the first rural area in the nation to receive a Promise Zone Designation.

This marks Sandi’s second contribution to our blog.  Sandi’s article expresses her opinion on one of the missing pieces of Appalachian infrastructure: reliable, high speed internet.



So I’m at Best Buy in Lexington, and there it is — bright, shiny and in the center of the store, the refrigerator of the future. Have you seen the commercial? Hubby is at the grocery, calls home to find out if he needs to buy eggs, wife is up to her elbows making melon balls, so he consults his smart phone.  His phone calls the refrigerator, which reveals its interior content and reveals that, in fact, this family is good on eggs.

That refrigerator is the beginning of the Internet of THINGS, where there is an ability to transfer data without any human interaction. And it’s here in Kentucky. Futurists say the possibilities are unlimited. Home security systems are already here with the ability to activate the system remotely and to visually check out the building’s interior.

We are all familiar with the explosion of the Internet’s uses and applications. But there is a behind-the-scenes need that comes with that growth, and it is called broadband.

Broadband is the utility that physically moves your data to the World Wide Web.  It comes in several different forms: over telephone lines in DSL, over the copper lines in your cable TV and over glass fiber optic lines. All these options can carry your Internet needs but at different quantities. If data were a boat, then DSL would be a creek, cable would be a river, and fiber optic would be the Mississippi. The more boats, the bigger the river needed.

It will be a good long while before I need the Mississippi River to carry my data. There’s just me and Bryan, and my refrigerator is just fine, thank you.

But I think of my brother-in-law living in rural Harrison County. He telecommutes to his job in Frankfort every weekday. His wife is an elementary school teacher who uses the Internet for lesson plans, and they have three children, all of whom have built huge kingdoms on Minecraft.

Right now they have to take turns getting on the Internet, but how long can that last? What if my nephews want to compete for scholarships for the University of Pikeville’s video gaming team?  What if they need a refrigerator that can send them a picture of the inside contents?  Will they become another statistic of the migration from the rural to the urban in order to have affordable access to fiber optic internet?

Our rural future does not have to be denied a fiber optic future. Just like electricity, like water, like phone, like trash collection, fiber optics has left the luxury category and become a necessity.  Our elected officials and our community leaders are working to make this happen, but it’s a tough nut to crack. Tell them you support their efforts. Ask themnot to give up. We need to be able to tell our children to bring those grandkids home to raise, that they can do everything here that they can do there but have the rural experience of community, the scenic and soul-repairing access to nature and the extra time each day not spent in a traffic jam.

For more peeks at both the present and future, please visit the Kentucky Promise Zone Facebook page.  We’ll be posting uplifting, regional news, views and opportunities until 2024. It’s a Promise.

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