OSU's Brian Whitacre Says Highspeed Internet Could Be Coming to Rural Towns Near YouWed, 10 Nov 2021 13:01:31 CST
To survive, let alone thrive, rural Oklahomans, representing about 1/3 of Oklahoma’s population, need reliable, fast internet connections. Rural Oklahoma is below the national average when it comes to the availability and adoption of broadband. To help solve this problem, the federal government and companies like Hilliary Communications are stepping up to make that happen
Brian Whitacre, extension specialist for Rural Economic Development at Oklahoma State University, spoke with KC Sheperd, associate director for Radio Oklahoma Ag Network, about the latest on the internet situation in Oklahoma.
“A couple of months ago when I gave a presentation on broadband we had some funding through the American Recovery Plan,” Whitacre said. “Just recently, we saw the full passage of the infrastructure bill. That is a whole lot more money for broadband; we are talking about $65 billion.”
Whitacre said the money will not only go towards building infrastructure, but also helping people pay for services. Since Oklahoma ranks so low in terms of rural broadband connectivity the chances of qualifying for federal funds are very good.
Most broadband infrastructure development projects should be completed within five years of getting funding, Whitacre said. The size of the company, the size of the service area and when money is awarded means some projects will be completed later than others.
“I certainly think within five to ten years, we could be looking at hopefully universal connectivity,” Whitacre said. “There are a whole host of (positive) outcomes this could potentially bring.”
Speaking specifically about rural Oklahoma’s agriculture, Whitacre said studies have shown when farms and ranches have access to good broadband it can improve their yields, cut costs and be more competitive.
Hit the LISTEN BAR below to hear from KC Sheperd and Dr. Brian Whitacre as they talk about rural broadband in Oklahoma.
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