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USDA designates more than $60 million to expand high speed internet access in rural areas of Oklahoma tribal nations

Workers at Lake Region Electric Cooperative installs fiber in Hulbert, Okla.
Seth Bodine
Workers at Lake Region Electric Cooperative installs fiber in Hulbert, Okla.

An Oklahoma tribal nation and two telephone companies are receiving $67.4 million to expand broadband access in rural Oklahoma.

The funds are part of a $667 million investment by the US Department of Agriculture to expand rural high speed internet access in 22 states and the Marshall Islands.

The project is called ReConnect. And in Oklahoma, the disbursements look like this:

  • Pawnee Nation will get $24.9 million to expand access in Pawnee in Payne Counties.
  • Oklahoma Western Telephone will get  $24.9 million for counties within Choctaw Nation.
  • And Cimarron Telephone Company will get an almost $9 million grant and $9 million loan to expand access in Muscogee Nation.

The program is part of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021. Other Oklahoma companies have gotten grants from the program before, including two providers who received about $50 million in June.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the grants this week and said they are a critical piece to providing better infrastructure in rural areas.

“Keeping the people of rural America connected with reliable, high-speed internet brings new and innovative ideas to the rest of our country and creates good-paying jobs along the way,” he said.

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Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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