As part of an initiative to expand access to broadband and telecommunications services in rural America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded KET nearly $358,000 through a Public Television Digital Transition Grant program to improve access in parts of eastern and southeastern Kentucky.
The funding will replace 20 analog microwave communication systems with digital systems to connect the KET Network Center to WKSO in Somerset, WKMR in Morehead, WKHA in Hazard, and WKPI in Pikeville. The digital equipment will enhance KET’s ability to serve its viewers in these rural areas of the state with more reliable access to its educational programs and services.
“Every Kentuckian deserves the best educational media, delivered on an all-digital transmission system,” said Shae Hopkins, KET executive director and CEO. “We appreciate this important investment from the USDA and are proud to join Congressman Hal Rogers and Governor Steve Beshear in advancing educational opportunity in Eastern Kentucky.”
Said Gov. Beshear: “We continue to receive funding and support for education and economic development tools that will help us transform this region of our state. These digital upgrades allow the four stations to strengthen communications within their communities and to increase access to critical educational programming.”
Said Congressman Rogers: “Upgrading our digital infrastructure is a vital part of our future, and this investment in Eastern Kentucky stations will help in ‘Shaping Our Appalachian Region.’ Together with the upcoming expansion of high-speed, high-capacity broadband in our region, we can launch into the world market where digital access provides new opportunities for families, business, healthcare and education.”
The federal funding is part of the Public Television Digital Transition Grant program through USDA Rural Development. The USDA awarded grants totaling more than $2.5 million to Kentucky, Alaska, Idaho, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, and West Virginia. The USDA release announcing full grant amounts for all states is available in the USDA’s online newsroom.
KET is Kentucky’s largest classroom, serving more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile. Learn more about Kentucky’s preeminent public media organization on Twitter @KET and facebook.com/KET and at KET.org.