Officials hope fiber will replace coal in eastern Kentucky

State and federal officials have kicked off the construction of 3,400 miles of fiber optic cable they hope will transform eastern Kentucky’s economy following the decline of the coal industry.
    
Republican U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear were among the officials that dedicated the network Monday in Hazard. The network will cost about $324 million to build. Taxpayers will pay about $53.5 million, with the rest coming from private investors.
    
Kentucky will own the network, which will begin in eastern Kentucky and eventually reach into all of the state’s 120 counties. But the Australian-based investment firm the Macquarie Group and its partners have a contract with the state to build and operate the network for the next 30 years.
    
Beshear and Rogers called the network the most important infrastructure project in the state’s history.

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