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Oklahoma to Receive Nearly $168M for Broadband Work

The Oklahoma Broadband Office received official notification from the U.S. Department of the Treasury of the allocation of $167.7 million through the American Rescue Plan Act's Capital Projects Fund for broadband expansion efforts.

The Oklahoma State Capitol at dusk.
The Oklahoma State Capitol building.
(TNS) — Internet connectivity is taken for granted by many individuals, but that's not true in outlying rural areas or for individuals who cannot afford the pricey packages.

According to BroadbandUSA, 20.9% of tribal lands and 17.2% of rural lands do not have access to high-speed Internet. More than 728,000 Oklahomans lack access to reliable high-speed Internet service, the majority living in rural areas.

Broadband and high-speed Internet are interchangeable terms when the Internet speeds are at FCC standards, or higher, with a minimum of 25Mbps for download and 3Mbps for upload.

Expansion of the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program will close the "digital divide" for high-speed Internet access, according to the Oklahoma Broadband Expansion Council.

Oklahoma is working to ensure fast and affordable broadband Internet service is available across the state, and the Oklahoma Broadband Office is a major player in this effort. The OBO received official notification by the U.S. Department of Treasury of the allocation of $167.7 million through the American Rescue Plan Act's Capital Projects Fund.

CPF is the third federal infrastructure grant program approved for administration through the OBO. The others are the ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, at $382 million, and BEAD, at $797.4 million.

"We will invest these funds in areas of the state where broadband infrastructure expansion has historically been cost-prohibitive due to low population density and geographic constraints," said Mike Sanders, director of OBO. "In other words, rural Oklahoma will be the biggest beneficiary."

OBO was created in 2022 to develop and administer federal grant programs to make affordable, high-speed Internet available to the whole state. It also coordinates efforts to ensure the expansion is carried out efficiently.

The Oklahoma Broadband Expansion Council advises the SBO and recommends policies and incentives.

Nonprofits, community organizations and businesses are invited to attend several meetings on the next round of the Oklahoma Digital Promise Tour. Information is being gathered through this effort on what is currently available and what is needed.

The tour began Oct. 3 in Hobert and concludes Nov. 9 in Ponca City. A list of meeting times and locations is at

State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-D9, agrees there is a need for rural broadband expansion.

"The state has taken on the issue of rural broadband expansion, which we feel is a very important infrastructure need in Oklahoma," Pemberton said. "We have done this with the aid of ARPA funding from the federal government."

Through the Affordable Connectivity Program, households that cannot afford to pay full price for access are eligible for discounts of up to $30 per month and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands. This program was started Dec. 31, 2021.

Discounts of up to $100 to purchase a computer or tablet from participating providers by contributing more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase are also available.

Get help

For a list of qualifiers to be eligible for the discounts and assistance with the purchase of equipment, go to

©2023 the Tahlequah Daily Press, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.