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USDA awards $31 million to Oklahoma for rural broadband development

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Todd Johnson
/
Oklahoma State University
The federal funds Oklahoma received from the USDA will help connect more than 8,000 people, 260 businesses and 130 farms to high-speed internet.

Seven Oklahoma counties will receive rural broadband assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it will award more than $31 million to Oklahoma to provide high-speed internet access for rural residents and businesses across seven counties.

Valliant Telephone Company, Southern Plains Cable LLC and the Osage Nation will receive the federal money through the USDA’s ReConnect program to help connect Oklahoma residents, businesses and farms to high-speed internet.

ReConnect offers federal loans and grants to state and local governments, Indian tribes and corporations to build broadband infrastructure and provide high-speed internet access to rural communities.

Counties that will receive rural broadband assistance from the federal funding include Choctaw, McCurtain, Osage, Caddo, Comanche, Cotton and Grady counties.

In the announcement, Kenneth Corn, Oklahoma’s rural development director, recognized how the federal award money will benefit rural areas in the state.

“Access to broadband will strengthen the ability of rural communities to prosper by expanding the opportunity to allow businesses to grow, expand access to critical healthcare, open the doors to educational programs and lessen the barrier for transportation on some of our rural residents,” Corn said.

The USDA broke down how the $31 million will be used in its announcement:

  • Valliant Telephone Company Inc. will deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that network will connect 200 people, 16 businesses and one educational facility to high-speed internet in Choctaw and McCurtain Counties. 

    • Valliant Telephone Company Inc. will make high-speed internet affordable by implementing the FCC's Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs, and offering four internet packages. 
  • Southern Plains Cable LLC will deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that will connect 7,093 people, 230 businesses, six farms and 29 schools to high-speed internet in Caddo, Comanche, Cotton and Grady counties. 

    • Southern Plains will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline programs. This project will serve the Kiowa-Comanche-Apache-Fort Sill Apache tribal statistical area as well as socially vulnerable communities in Cotton County.
  • The Osage Nation will deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 831 people, 18 businesses and 128 farms to high-speed internet in Osage County. 

    • The Osage Nation will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program.

In this latest round of ReConnect funding, the USDA has announced $502 million toward rural broadband development across 20 states, including Oklahoma. To learn more about the ReConnect program, visit the USDA’s website or contact Oklahoma’s Rural Development state office.

Xcaret Nuñez covers agriculture and rural communities for KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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