With countywide fiber service, Boone County is emerging from the 'Fred Flintstone age'

Jack Prindle bought his house in western Boone County with assurances from an internet service that he’d soon be eligible for high-speed internet.

But the internet did not come to the south end of Big Bone Church Road. For years Prindle, a retired Boone County deputy, lobbied providers, made pitches before the fiscal court and wrote guest editorials. Years went by, though, so Prindle and neighbors took extraordinary steps to get high-speed internet access.

He and neighbor Gex Williams organized 12 of 24 affected residents and installed commercial internet service at one house. They put up a pole to bounce the signal to another neighbor on top of a hill. Their DIY network finally gave them connections, paying for these workarounds out of their own pocket.

Now Boone County is about midway through its strategy, begun in March 2021, to deliver access to high-speed internet to every home and business in the county.

Already 16,000 homes have gotten fiber optic service. A total of 33,000 is expected. An $808,832 state grant announced in June will help pay for hooking up 2,130 homes, a subset of that 33,000. Altafiber, formerly Cincinnati Bell, has committed $30 million to the project. Boone County is responsible for $13.6 million.

About 33,000 Boone County homes are slated to be wired.Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore says this extra financial support is appreciated for this “transformational” project. “Boone County is extremely pleased and grateful to (Kentucky Infrastructure Authority) in receiving a note of preliminary award for the county’s high-speed internet project,” Moore says in a state press release. “These funds will be applied to continuing the buildout of fiber to every household in the county, resulting in universal access to a system capable of delivering 1.0 gigabyte of service.”

Moore says the project “is on schedule for completion during the first half of 2023.”

Installing fiber optic cable to qualifying homes will “future-proof” much of Boone County, Assistant Administrator Matthew Webster tells NKY Thrives. This way, “you’ve got the pipeline to carry whatever technical advances may happen in the future.”

What Boone County is trying to do is ensure the rest of its households – including those who work from home or have kids learning at home – have a minimum of 1 GB and capacity for upgrades. “Obviously we’re going from Fred Flintstone stone age to this century” by bringing high-speed internet to underserved areas, Webster says.

Meanwhile, Prindle and his neighbors were finally hooked up through Cincinnati Bell in March 2018. He says he is pleased by the commitment made by Boone County and knows his decade-long prodding did not fall on deaf ears.

“High-speed internet is now as much of a necessity as electric service,” the retired deputy says. “Banking, educational services, communications, entertainment, and just about every function in life now requires the consumer to utilize devices which are connected to the internet.”

Not having internet is no longer an option, he says, it is a requirement. “Try contacting any government agency, big company, retailer, or educational institution without using the internet to accomplish it. You cannot get anything done,” Prindle says.

Read more articles by Nancy Daly.

Nancy Daly is a veteran Kentucky and Cincinnati journalist. An "Army brat" who found a home in Kentucky, she is a University of Kentucky graduate. Her hobbies include photography, rewatching "Better Call Saul" and "Succession," and playing the "Alphabet Game" on Zoom with six siblings across the globe.