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USDA awards nearly $90 million to Oklahoma for rural broadband development

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Todd Johnson
/
Oklahoma State University

More than a dozen Oklahoma counties will receive funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it will award nearly $90 million to Oklahoma to provide high-speed internet access for rural residents, farms and businesses across 14 counties.

Counties will receive the federal money through the USDA’s ReConnect program to help connect Oklahoma residents, farms, businesses and schools to high-speed internet.

ReConnect provides federal loans and grants to state and local governments, tribes and corporations to cover the costs of building broadband infrastructure to provide high-speed internet access to rural communities.

Counties that will receive rural broadband assistance from federal funding include Noble, Osage, Pawnee, McCurtain, Choctaw, Alfalfa, Harper, Major, Woods, Woodward, Jefferson, Le Flore, Pushmataha, and Ottawa.

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

“High-speed internet investment is vital to ensure we can grow and provide our businesses, banking, schooling, and healthcare sectors a much-needed boost to small town Main Streets and tribal communities across the Sooner State,” Corn said.

The USDA broke down how the $85 million will be used in its announcement:

  • $24,996,065 will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 3,486 people, 792 farms, 124 businesses and 12 educational facilities in Noble, Osage, and Pawnee counties. 

    • This project will serve the Pawnee, Ponca and Otoe-Missouria Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Areas in Oklahoma. 
  • $11,105,000 will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,901 people, 95 farms and 47 businesses in McCurtain County.

    • Pine Cellular Phones Inc. will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program. This project will serve socially vulnerable communities in McCurtain County in Oklahoma and the Choctaw Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area. 
  • $24,760,303 will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 3,975 people, 981 farms, 216 businesses and 11 public schools to high-speed internet in Alfalfa, Harper, Major, Woods, and Woodward counties,

    • Pioneer Telephone Cooperative Inc. will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Lifeline Program. The company will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program.  
  • $7,497,965 will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,529 people, 90 farms, 37 businesses and six educational facilities to high-speed internet in Jefferson County.

    • Terral Telephone Company will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program. This project  will serve socially vulnerable communities in Jefferson County and the Chickasaw Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area. 
  • $13,552,987 will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 2,031 people, 359 farms and 34 businesses to high-speed internet in Le Flore, McCurtain and Pushmataha counties.

    • The Pine Telephone Company Inc. will make high speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program. This project will serve the Choctaw Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area and socially vulnerable communities in Le Flore County.  
  • $3,822,049 will be used to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network to connect 1,407 people, 54 farms, 52 businesses and four educational facilities to high-speed internet in Ottawa County. 

    • Wyandotte Telephone Company will make high-speed internet affordable by participating in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity and Lifeline  programs. This project will serve the Wyandotte Oklahoma Tribal Statistical Area in Ottawa County in Oklahoma.  

In this latest round of ReConnect funding, the USDA has announced $759 million toward rural broadband development across 24 states, including Oklahoma. A part of the funding comes from the White House’s broader $65 billion initiative for high-speed connectivity from last year’s infrastructure law.

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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