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They’re evolving: Rural Oklahomans may finally get decent internet access

3:02 PM EST on February 17, 2020


Good news, the 1-point-something million people who have the pleasure of living in Oklahoma outside of the OKC and Tulsa metropolises! Thanks to the FCC, pretty soon you’ll have access to broadband internet so you can finally start streaming your favorite reruns of Gunsmoke and Bonanza! At least some of you, anyway.

Via News on 6…

 LOCUST GROVE, Oklahoma - Northeast Oklahoma is getting more than $6.7 million dollars from the Federal Communications Commission to improve internet access in rural areas.

The FCC said the funding will be award to internet providers to expand broadband service for 2,400 homes and businesses in Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, and Ottawa Counties.

This represents the ninth wave of support from the 2018 Connect America Fund Phase II auction, part of a federal initiative to “close the digital divide” and “connect residents with opportunities made possible by high-speed broadband.”

Those living in the country told News On 6 they appreciate the slow-pace, but not when it comes to the internet.

I know we like to joke about rural Oklahoma’s “slow pace,” especially when it comes to keeping up with social mores and having more than two restaurants that aren’t gas stations. But the reality is that rural Oklahoma really is a couple of decades behind when you’re talking about decent broadband internet access. I texted my sister interviewed a real rural Oklahoman who was not able to get such a thing until 2017. YES, TWO THOUSAND SEVENTEEN. Here’s what she said about the experience…

“It was a nightmare. We lived too far out of town for a lot of towers to reach. AT&T couldn’t get too far back off the road and one company couldn’t get us WiFi because we were surrounded by too many barns, so the signal couldn’t reach us without being affected.”

Yes, you read that right. She couldn’t get WiFi at her house not only because you basically had to go off-roading to get to her driveway, but also because there were too many barns interfering with the signal. But don’t worry, she said was able to get dial-up internet speed during this time. Man, rural Oklahoma isn't joking about going at a "slow-pace.” No wonder mullets are still popular out there.

As of 2018, 54% of rural Oklahomans did not have access to broadband internet. All joking aside, this is a real problem. First of all, studies suggest that kids who have broadband internet access at home are more likely to have higher test scores than those who don’t. And God knows Oklahoma public school kids need all the help they can get. What’s more is that research also suggests that rural communities without broadband internet have less access to medical assistance and that rural businesses without it often have difficulties in making technological advancements that are important for businesses to survive nowadays. Come on, unless you’re a grandmother or drug dealer, nobody carries cash anymore.

Having a quality Internet connection is not just about being able to place custom orders for a new CZ handgun from the comfort of your Lazyboy or getting in a comments war on Facebook with your nephew who voted for Obama in 2012. It’s about having access to life-saving resources and information. Now if you choose to use those resources and information to order a gun or argue with your nephew and his punkass friends on Facebook, then by-God you should have that privilege as well.

BEE-ummmmm BEH-min-AAAAAAAH. "Hang up the phone, mom." Then follow Hayley on twitter @squirrellygeek

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