The2nd meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism was held on Thursday, August 16, 2007, at 10:00 AM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Eddie Ballard, co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Alice Forgy Kerr, Presiding Co-Chair; Representative Eddie Ballard, Presiding Co-Chair; Senators Julian M. Carroll, Brett Guthrie, Denise Harper Angel, Ray S. Jones II, Richie Sanders Jr, Katie Stine, Gary Tapp, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Royce W. Adams, Carolyn Belcher, Larry Belcher, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Jesse Crenshaw, Jim DeCesare, Milward Dedman Jr, Mike Denham, Bob M DeWeese, Myron Dossett, Ted Edmonds, Jim Gooch Jr, Mike Harmon, Melvin B. Henley, Dennis Horlander, Joni L. Jenkins, Dennis Keene, Adam Koenig, Tom McKee, Brad Montell, Tim Moore, Fred Nesler, David Osborne, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Don Pasley, Dottie Sims, Ancel Smith, Brandon Smith, John Will Stacy, Robin L. Webb, Ron Weston, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Andrew McNeill, Vice President, Program Development, and Rene True, Director of State Operations, ConnectKentucky.
LRC Staff: John Buckner, Committee Staff Administrator; Karen Armstrong-Cummings; Louis Pierce; and Dawn Johnson.
Senator Kerr noted that Representative Tim Moore, a member of the Air National Guard was joining the meeting from Afghanistan via audio link.
Representative Ballard announced that Representative Clark could not attend the meeting due to an illness in the family.
Mr. Andrew McNeill, Vice President of Program Development, and Mr. Rene True, Director of State Operations of ConnectKentucky discussed the deployment of broadband technology and access to local governments. Announced in 2004, ConnectKentucky's "Prescription for Innovation" plan is based on four tenets: ubiquitous broadband coverage, 100 percent broadband availability for all Kentucky residents; enhanced computer usage by Kentuckians; meaningful online presence for all communities and local leadership teams related to technology development at the local level.
Referring to a PowerPoint presentation, Mr. McNeill signified where broadband deployment has and has not occurred, and what types. He said 94 percent of Kentucky's households have some form of broadband internet service available. In 2004, only 60 percent, or 532,000 households had broadband access. Mr. McNeill pointed out areas that currently do not have broadband access, approximately six percent of households. The average area with broadband service contains 1,100 households with 2,850 residents per square mile. Less than 115 households with approximately 310 residents per square mile do not have coverage. Most remaining areas are extremely rural and have proved challenging. Mr. McNeill said it was important to consider county-level deployment as well as statewide deployment. Mr. McNeill said the remaining gaps could be filled by working with the private sector in identifying market opportunities relating to broadband deployment through partnerships with cable, telephone, and fixed wireless companies. He said satellite broadband providers such as Wild Blue will be necessary to serve a segment of Kentucky that will likely require satellite for broadband access.
Mr. McNeill said Kentucky has led the country in terms of extending broadband to its residents. Since 2005, 18,400 technology jobs were created–a growth rate that has significantly outpacing the national average. He said that established infrastructure is the foundation through which Kentucky can build economic growth through the deployment of broadband.
Mr. McNeill said the benefits of broadband technology are visible through eHealth, eGovernment, digital inclusion, educational opportunities, economic development and independent living by empowering an aging society. He said ConnectKentucky has become a national model for other states. ConnectedNation was launched to translate Kentucky's success to other states including Massachusetts, California, West Virginia, and Tennessee.
Referring to Representative Stacy's question, Mr. McNeill said that no cost comparative analysis has been done yet but it has been discussed as a topic for research in the future. Representative Stacy noted that cost is a factor for many households.
Responding to Representative Harmon's question Mr. McNeill said Wild Blue is not mobile and is comparable to a home satellite system. He said mobile phone companies are beginning to offer mobile broadband wireless services.
Representative Montell asked if the promise by telephone companies to expand their services with regulation changes enacted by the General Assembly had been upheld. Mr. McNeill said, yes, the success of the broadband initiative would not be nearly as significant without the changes.
Responding to Representative Hensley's questions, Mr. McNeill said approximately 36 percent of households that have access to broadband service have actually subscribed to it. In 2004, approximately 22 percent subscribed to the service. Kentucky is now at the national average. He said most all county libraries offered broadband service.
Mr. McNeill said an emerging issue is the definition of broadband. Kentucky has adopted the federal communications definition of 200 kilobits per second. He said the FCC is currently debating raising the rate significantly.
A motion was made by Representative Wuchner with a second by Representative Harmon to approve the June 21, 2007, minutes. Motion carried by voice vote.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 10:45 AM.