Kentucky awards contract to improve Internet, cell service

An Australian-based investment firm will manage an ambitious Kentucky project to lay 3,000 miles of fiber optic cables to improve Internet access and cellphone service throughout the state.

Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear and Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers announced Tuesday that Macquarie Group will lead the project that is expected to cost between $250 million and $350 million and be completed by 2016. The state is pitching in about $30 million while the federal government is paying $10 million. The rest of the money will come from private sources.

Kentucky will own the network, but the Macquarie Group has a contract to operate it for 30 years. The project will be built in two phases, with the first phase concentrating on eastern Kentucky.

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