Connecting the Rural Migration

We live in an age where access to technology influences nearly every aspect of our lives. From work, education and even health care, access to reliable high-speed broadband services enhances how we live.

“Internet’s considered a utility,” said OEC Fiber’s Fiber Optic Technician Jeremy Shives. “You’ve got to have it.”

Before the days of rural broadband, living in the idyllic setting of rolling hills and countrysides filled with lowing cattle was unavailable for many. The lack of reliable high-speed internet made living in the small communities that make up much of Oklahoma unappealing.

“[People] were unable to get internet unless you were in the city,” said Jeremy Kilpatrick, manager of fiber optic technicians for OEC Fiber. “Now, you’ve got just as good, if not better, internet out in the rural areas.”

According to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, rural broadband availability has changed how many Americans view rural migration. It removed many obstacles keeping people from relocating to more remote areas.

Rural communities have exploded in the last decade. A article states that Oklahoma has grown an average of 0.5% annually from 2010 to 2021. This steady growth saw a significant increase in 2021 as people looked for more relaxed rural places to call home.

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 17.9% of the workforce, roughly 27.6 million people, work primarily from home as of 2021. The ability to work from home is dependent on broadband access.

“[We build fiber] so people can communicate with the rest of the world,” Kilpatrick said. 

Bringing reliable, high-speed broadband to rural communities is giving them new life. It opens the doors of opportunity, giving younger generations more reason to stay than to go. It changes communities for the better. With rural broadband, anything is possible.