More than 200 guests from 21 states attended the Cooperative Broadband Coalition’s inaugural Connected Oklahoma – Rural Broadband Summit in Edmond on Sept. 27. The Cooperative Broadband Coalition brought together various stakeholders to discuss opportunities to better serve broadband in rural areas.
“Internet is key to unblocking the economic potential in rural areas,” said Speaker Charles McCall, Oklahoma House of Representatives. “There is a lot of untapped potential outside the metros. Rural broadband is going to let the rural workforce compete with the urban centers.”
McCall said more than $1.4 billion in funding is being pushed out through the Oklahoma Broadband Office, and a focus will be on getting money to the unserved and underserved areas first.
In addition to Speaker McCall, attendees also heard from Mike Sanders, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Broadband Office; Gigi Sohn, Executive Director of the American Association of Public Broadband; Jon Worley, Senior Technology Architect for the American Registry of Internet Numbers; Sarah Bleau, Director of the Middle Mile Program for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; directors of the Arkansas, New Mexico and Indiana broadband offices; and several additional panelists including Oklahoma rural broadband operators. Some topics discussed were the state and federal grants process, supercharging the economy with broadband, and building a coalition-based middle mile network.
The CBC unites 11 electric cooperatives with fiber subsidiaries in the state of Oklahoma. Collectively, these cooperatives have reached the milestone of connecting 100,000-plus households in rural areas, a significant investment in the quality of life for rural Oklahomans and the statewide economy. Visit cooperativebroadband.coop for more information.