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Content tagged with "oklahoma"
Panhandle Telephone Cooperative Inc. (PTCI) has announced the broadband provider will be dramatically expanding access to its fiber broadband services in New Mexico thanks to a new $43.4 million grant made possible by federal infrastructure legislation.
The Cooperative currently predominately offers fiber broadband, phone, and cellular wireless phone service to subscribers in Oklahoma and Texas. The $43 million cash infusion will allow the cooperative to expand access outside of its existing footprint into rural Union County, in northeast New Mexico.
As per grant rules, the network will deliver speeds of 100 Megabit per second (Mbps) downstream and 20 Mbps upstream, but the cooperative does not yet have a construction timeline or information on planned tiers and pricing.
PTCI’s existing deployments in Texas provide locals with uncapped fiber access at symmetrical speeds of 100 Mbps, 250 Mbps, and 1 Gbps for $60, $86, and $116 per month, respectively. The company stopped offering TV services in 2020, but launched its own cellular network in its existing territories starting in 2021.
The project’s $43 million grant for expansion into New Mexico was made possible courtesy of a recently announced fourth funding round for the U.S Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program. Last month the program announced another $714 million in grants and loans aimed at shoring up broadband access to long unserved or underserved rural Americans.
Ponca City, Oklahoma officials say they’ve completed construction of a citywide fiber broadband network both ahead of schedule and under budget.
The finished network is now providing affordable, uncapped, multi-gigabit fiber access to every local resident in the community or 24,100 residents of Northern Oklahoma city.
In 1996, Ponca City began developing a 140 mile central fiber network to help connect schools, city offices, and other key anchor institutions. The city’s infrastructure was expanded in 2005 to provide access to local businesses, and again in 2007 when the city began providing local access to a citywide Wi-Fi system at no cost to local residents.
Frustrated with substandard service from regional telecom monopolies, in 2014 city officials began seriously talking about building a citywide fiber network. By 2015, officials had begun gauging local interest and found that 85 percent of residents were frustrated with existing service, and overwhelmingly supported the city’s plan to build something better.
That same year officials began network planning and studying other projects in earnest.
“Collectively we studied more than 2 dozen successful projects and 13 failed ones to learn from those experiences,” Dave Williams, Director of Technology Services for Ponca City said at the time. “We visited other cities that have implemented broadband solutions, read countless research articles detailing the challenges and rewards of such projects, and systematically took every aspect of this project apart and looked at it to develop a plan addressing all the potential problem areas the best we possibly could.”
‘Business is Booming’
Eight years later and those efforts are now paying off for Ponca City residents.
Muscogee (Creek) and Cherokee Nations Fostering Workforce Development Through Fiber Technician Program
Over the next few years, we will see an upward trend of fiber infrastructure being built (RDOF, privately announced investment from monopoly providers, NTIA $10 billion broadband infrastructure program, and now, the passing of the infrastructure bill). We will need, as a country, more fiber technicians to do this work, but there is a lack of fiber training programs.
To meet this need and in response to dual dilemma of an ever present need for affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband, and the number of citizens that have been dislocated or laid off due to the pandemic, the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology has partnered with Cherokee Nation Career Services (CNCS) and Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reintegration Program to create a fiber technician training program.
As part of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reintegration Program, the first nine participants graduated from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Fiber Optic Technician program on Sept. 10.
The fiber optic technician training program takes place in person over the course of eight weeks followed by a four-week internship. According to the RIP website the course covers pole climbing and fiber splicing. OSHA 10 and CPR certification are also included.
“This is a significant program for OSUIT to be involved with,” Na-komas Blackford, Workforce Training Coordinator at OSUIT, said in a press release on OSUIT’s website. “The broadband industry is growing and expected to continue growing in Oklahoma. OSUIT specializes in high-demand training, and this is one area we did not want to miss out on.”
Training for Success
The Muscogee program came after leaders heard about the success CNCS had when it started in the fall of 2020 and already has several participants working in the field.
Ponca City, Oklahoma (pop. 24,100) sits in the north-central part of the Sooner State 100 miles north of Oklahoma City. Its history as a community built and shaped by the oil town looms large, from the E.W. Marland Mansion which still stands as a testament to the efforts of the oil baron who helped build the city in the first decades of the 1900s, to the Conoco Museum which offers residents and tourists a look at the history of the corporate giant which emerged in the latter half of the twentieth century.
But today, instead of pumping petroleum in the name of keeping the local economy strong, officials are broadcasting bytes to residents, business, government facilities, and community anchor institutions via their new municipal fiber utility: Ponca City Broadband. The project, which left its pilot phase two years ago in July, has passed the halfway point of a full greenfield overbuild which will see more than 400 miles of new fiber pulled to build the citywide network as it aims for completion in late 2022.
A Wired Upgrade
A version of this story was originally published by the National League of Cities. Read the original here, with the full version below.
There’s an overwhelming tendency among regular Americans to conflate the basic infrastructure which surrounds us with permanence. Whether it’s the garbage truck predictably rumbling down the street at the same time every week, the water flowing from the tap, or our Internet connection, we assume that the physical ties which bind us together will always be there. And that’s because it mostly has, especially for community owned and operated infrastructure. When utility services are owned and operated by communities, they are by definition maintained by people who live locally for people who live locally. It’s hard to be taken by surprise and left without essential services.
But the odds tilt in the other direction when such services are delivered by outside firms. We’re seeing the consequences of this for electricity users in the wake of the Texas grid disaster last winter (as well as coming rumblings of heat-caused outages this June), but it’s a problem that’s been around longer than that for basic service providers of all types, where bankruptcies can leave whole communities high and dry.
The same consequences hold true when those firms are Internet Service Providers (ISPs), beholden to interests outside of the cities and towns they serve. Tens of thousands of American households learned this very lesson last fall when AT&T announced it was leaving the DSL business and no longer making new connections to its aging infrastructure, even though those wires will continue to sit in the ground for decades to come. Buy a new house in this area, and if AT&T DSL was the only provider in town, and you’ve got few or no options.
Florida Legislature rewrites utility pole bill to include language backed by municipal electric utilities
North Carolina’s County Broadband Authority Act includes clause drawing criticism from electric co-ops
Oklahoma Governor signs mapping bill, vetoes measure adding Tribal representation to state broadband council
The State Scene
This week’s community broadband state legislative roundup revisits and provides updates on important bills moving through the state legislatures in Washington, Oklahoma, and California.
The State Scene
We’ve been closely covering S.B. 5383 and H.B. 1336, two bills in Washington state that would give Public Utilities Districts (PUDs) and port districts the authority to offer retail telecommunications services.
Our initial coverage pointed out shortcomings in S.B. 5383. The bill originally contained a preemption clause that gave private Internet Service Providers (ISPs) the power to reject PUDs’ and ports’ project proposals in areas where incumbent ISPs claim they plan to expand service within six months.
Since our last reporting on this piece of legislation, the bill was amended by the State House Community and Economic Development Committee, removing the veto authority initially given to existing ISPs. However, a new provision favoring incumbent cable ISPs was also added, which would prohibit a PUD or port from providing retail Internet services in an area where an existing provider offers service at a minimum of 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) download speed and 20 Mbps upload speed. The minimum speed requirements of this provision would be increased to stay consistent with Washington’s state definition of broadband.
The Committee also amended the bill to allow PUDs and ports to provide retail services in served areas, but only when building to reach an unserved region.
A California ballot initiative would empower voters to build their own Internet access solutions.
The Oklahoma House sends seven broadband bills to Senate.
New York and North Carolina initiate statewide digital inclusion programs.
Virginia is second state to pass comprehensive privacy legislation.
See the bottom of this post for some broadband-related job openings.
The State Scene
California Legislation Could Lead To Massive Investments in Public Broadband
As lawmakers in the Golden State look to rectify a reputation of having one of the highest student populations without Internet connectivity, bills aiming to expand access to 98 percent of California households by increasing investments in public broadband infrastructure were launched early in California’s legislative session.
Though there are several other bills pertaining to broadband that have been introduced in Sacramento, we focus on these four because, if passed, they would have the biggest impact on municipal networks.
S.B. 4, sponsored by State Sen. Lena Gonzalez, D-33, would create a new state-backed bond program, enabling local governments to finance more than $1 billion in public infrastructure projects through bond issuances. The low-interest debt for the projects could be repaid over multiple decades.
AT&T Is Abandoning Tens of Thousands of American Households in the Deep South Who Have No Other Internet Access Option
All across the country, municipal networks, cooperatives, and cities have been putting in extra effort to make sure that Americans have the fast, affordable, reliable Internet access they need to conduct their lives in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
AT&T has decided to take another route. A USA Today report last week revealed that the company has stopped making connections to users subscribing to its ADSL Internet as of October 1st. Anyone calling the company to set up new service is being told that no new accounts are being accepted.
The decision comes right as the National Digital Inclusion Alliance has released a report detailing that only 28% of AT&T’s territory can get fiber from the company. AT&T has deliberately focused investment in more urban areas of higher income. From the report:
The analysis of AT&T’s network reveals that the company is prioritizing network upgrades to wealthier areas, and leaving lower income communities with outdated technologies. Across the country, the median income for households with fiber available is 34 percent higher than in areas with DSL only — $60,969 compared to $45,500.
The Deep South Hit Hardest
As of today, it looks like the most conservative number of those affected by the decision will be about 80,000 households that have no other option. Our analysis using the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Form 477 data shows that the Deep South will be hit the hardest (see table at the bottom of the page).
Collectively it means more than 207,000 Americans who, if disconnected, will have no option for Internet aside from their mobile devices or satellite service. The number of Americans affected by the decision but which have additional wireline options is higher: roughly 2.2 million American households nationwide subscribe to the service (see map, below).
OEC Fiber Delivering the Gigabit Service People Want in Oklahoma - Community Broadband Bits Podcast 398
Norman, Oklahoma, is known for the University of Oklahoma and, with 30,000 students enrolled, one expects Internet access to be vibrant and readily available throughout the area. It hasn't always been that way, but thanks to Oklahoma Electric Cooperative and their OEC Fiber, those who live and work in the areas around the fringes of the University and the city now have access to fast, affordable, reliable connectivity.
CEO of the co-op Patrick Grace and President of OEC Fiber David Goodspeed visit with Christopher during this week's episode. They talk about how the electric cooperative got into offering fiber to folks in their region and how they've financed the deployment. Patrick and David describe how local competition has influenced their project and how they knew they needed to pursue the prospect of offering Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) service. They talk about their rapid expansion and share information on the popularity of their gig service.
They also describe the reactions from subscribers who once had to rely on satellite or mobile hotspots as they've transitioned to at-home gigabit connectivity. Enthusiasm for OEC Fiber has been high, partly due to the services they offer, but also because the community and employees of the cooperative have a deep sense of pride in the contribution their project is making to the region.
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Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.