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USDA awards more than $50 million to Oklahoma for rural broadband expansion

Todd Johnson
Oklahoma State University

Counties in Southeast Oklahoma and the panhandle will receive funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to bring high-speed Internet to rural communities.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it will award more than $50 million to Oklahoma to provide high-speed internet access for rural communities across Beaver, Cimarron and Pittsburg counties.

Counties will receive the federal funds 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.

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 connections are becoming essential for businesses, hospitals and schools to conduct day-to-day business in rural Oklahoma,” Corn said in a news release. “Broadband expansion is such a critical need here in Oklahoma to keep our rural communities connected and provide rural Oklahomans the same opportunities for economic growth as their peers in urban areas.”

The USDA broke down how the $50 million will be used in its announcement:

  • Panhandle Telephone Cooperative will receive a $21.665 million grant and $21.665 million loan to provide high-speed internet in Beaver and Cimarron counties in Oklahoma and Union County in New Mexico. 

    • This network will serve 1,284 people, 36 businesses, 696 farms and three educational facilities. 
  • Canadian Valley Telephone Company will receive a $4.997 million grant and a $4.997 million loan to provide high-speed internet in Pittsburg County in Oklahoma. 

    • This network will serve 1,505 people, 36 businesses, 61 farms and three educational facilities. 

In this latest round of ReConnect funding, the USDA has announced $714 million toward rural broadband development across 19 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.

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Xcaret Nuñez covered agriculture and rural communities for KOSU as a corps member with Report for America from June 2022 to September 2023.
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