Kentucky Rural Broadband

Bluegrass Network in Kentucky is using coherent optics to deploy an 800 Gbps coherent network and boost its middle-mile capacity to 33.6 Tbps. The company is owned by five local telcos in the state.

The network, which covers more than 400 miles, connects factories, banks, medical facilities, cellular companies and government offices. It also links to national hubs in Chicago and Atlanta.

“Our goal was to create a ‘connectivity superhighway’ throughout central Kentucky,” Doug Updegraff, president and general manager, Bluegrass Network, said in a press release. “Bluegrass is one of the first network operators in the region to deploy 800Gb/s wavelengths on every route and offer Ethernet services ranging from 10Mb/s to 400GE.

“The new network enables our rural telephone companies to provide their member companies and residents with the highest speeds and reliability, contributing to a better quality of life for remote work, telemedicine, entertainment — really anything related to today’s digital lifestyle,” Updegraff said.

Ciena is providing four elements to the project:

  • WaveLogic 5 Extreme for reliable 800Gb/s connectivity while reducing energy consumption and space requirements;
  • 6500 ROADM for the ability to flexibly move capacity where it’s needed;
  • Navigator Network Control Suite for network management and a centralized, accurate view of multi-layer infrastructure; and
  • Ciena Services for full turnkey services, enabling successful deployment and fast turn up of the network.

Bluegrass is a member of INDATEL, a nationwide network of independent telecommunications providers. Its five founding members are Brandenburg Telephone, Duo Broadband, LTC Connect, North Central Communications and South Central Rural Telecommunications Cooperative.

Kentucky often is mentioned as a state struggling to bridge the digital divide. In January 2023, the state was awarded $182.8 million for broadband infrastructure by the $10 billion Capital Projects Fund (CPF), which was established by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The funding aims to connect 45,000 homes and businesses, and represents the state’s entire CPF funding.

For more on broadband across Kentucky, check out the Telecompetitor Broadband Nation webpage for the state.

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