Broadband expanding to 57 Oklahoma counties
The Oklahoma Broadband Governing Board authorized 142 broadband infrastructure expansion projects on Jan. 25, which will bring high-speed internet to 57 of the 77 counties in Oklahoma. Additionally, as many as 80% of the projects are expected to be high-speed fiber connections.
The expansion is the first step in bringing broadband to more than 55,000 homes and businesses in the Sooner State that have not had access to it previously. This amounts to nearly a quarter of locations without such service today.
The Oklahoma Legislature designated American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to create and administer the broadband investment grant program. Grant funds of $374 million will be combined with more than $90 million in matching funds from 31 internet service providers that submitted approved proposals for service expansion. Thirty-one companies were approved for the grants.
According to the OBO, once the agreements are executed, the projects can begin construction in the selected counties and must be completed before the end of 2026. The next grant program to be administered by the OBO is expected to award $159 million from the ARPA Capital Projects Fund to Expand high-speed internet service in Oklahoma.
“The board’s action is a giant step forward to improving quality of life and fostering digital growth throughout Oklahoma, but especially in rural areas,” said Mike Sanders, OBO executive director. “Access to reliable and affordable broadband will enable better educational and healthcare services, stimulate economic development, and empower Oklahomans to leverage the online technologies of the future, regardless of zip code.”
Lacey Vilhauer can be reached at 620-227-1871 or [email protected].