TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Cox Communications is giving nearly 600 homes across Kansas internet access.
Representatives for Cox made the announcement in a meeting with the state’s Special Committee on Economic Recovery on Tuesday.
“We know that this is a difficult time for all Kansans, and hopefully by connecting everyone together, and providing more connectivity, we can make things just a little easier,” said Megan Bottenberg, Cox Communications Manager of Kansas Government Affairs.
During the meeting, Bottenberg spoke about the impact lack of broadband access has had on families across the state. The average population without broadband access is 15%. Rural areas are struggling with getting internet access the most, but low-income families in urban areas are also affected, 5% of the population in urban areas in Kansas are without options, versus 4% nationally.
For some homes, it will be the first time they receive any internet access. And others will have access to high-speed internet, compared to their current low internet speed of 1 megabits per second. Bottenberg noted having limited access to the internet makes it almost impossible to navigate the ever-changing landscape that the coronavirus pandemic brings.
“Some of these homes aren’t able to do Zoom meetings for their work or their school, making schooling and working from home even more difficult,” she said.
Cox Communications, a member of the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association (KCTA), is the largest provider of broadband in the state.
The cable company’s project is targeting two areas in Shawnee County (near Topeka), two areas in Sedgwick County (near Derby & Kechi), and one area near Dodge City.
One thing that lawmakers noted during the meeting is that something needs to be done about getting more Kansans internet access.
“Broadband is the issue, and we need to bring everyone to the table and start discussing our next steps,” said Rep. Jim Gartner, D-Topeka, House Minority Whip for the state.
Governor Laura Kelly established Kansas’ Office of Broadband Development in October and announced the distribution of nearly $50 million in Connectivity Emergency Response Grant (CERG) funds for broadband access expansion to underserved communities.
Cox received nearly $1.5 million from the CERG grant to complete the broadband expansion project. However, representatives for the company said it will take more support and funding to keep these projects going.
“We could not build out to them without a private-public partnership. These grant dollars allowed us to have that much-needed partnership so that we could build out to them and serve more homes.”
The project will be completed by the end of the month. All residents will have up to 1 Gig of service by December 31.