AT&T has filed a protest against a Kentucky state government project to expand broadband fiber throughout the Commonwealth. The telecommunications giant claims KentuckyWired has an unfair advantage in the bidding process.
In its protest, AT&T states KentuckyWired “almost certainly has confidential, inside information that no other bidder could have,” pointing out that KentuckyWired Executive Director Steve Rucker was deputy secretary of the state’s Finance and Administration Cabinet when the agency started developing its request for proposal, or RFP.
Cabinet spokesperson Pamela Trautner said officials consulted with the Federal Communications Commission to mitigate any issues that may have arisen from Rucker’s switch. She said Rucker was not involved in developing the request.
“So we had one team that was negotiating with the public-private partners, and that’s all on KentuckyWired. And then there was another team that was developing the RFP for this to go forward and those two teams did not discuss this. The operations were separate,” Trautner said.
But AT&T cites Rucker's testimony to the Interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue, in which Rucker stated "I dropped out of the drafting and the reviewing of the solicitation once the FCC decided that an agency could not be both the applicant and the provider of services."
AT&T currently provides fiber broadband services to 175 public school districts and many libraries through a state contract. That contract could be terminated if the cabinet awards KentuckyWired the new RFP contract for its statewide broadband project, which has been referred to as KentuckyWired.
AT&T concludes in its protest that the Cabinet should set-aside the project, begin the bid process over again after dissolving the relationship between KentuckyWired and the state, or preclude KentuckyWired from bidding. Pamela Trautner said the Cabinet is currently reviewing the protest.