- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 7, 2016

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - State officials are growing more optimistic about spreading high-speed internet service to Eastern Kentucky - one step to help improve the economy and quality of life in the region.

Media outlets report hundreds of people attended the Shaping Our Appalachian Region Innovation Summit on Monday. A project to build access to high-speed internet in Eastern Kentucky has been a focus of SOAR.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, says 34 percent of houses in rural Kentucky can’t access internet service without the minimum federal broadband standard download speed of 25 megabytes per second. Leaders hope to change that by bringing cable and high-speed network poles to the region.

Officials further hope high-speed internet can help supplant lost coal jobs. The group Bit Source employs former coal miners and teaches them to code.

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