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Centranet Awarded Broadband Expansion Grant

Rural consumers in the service areas of five electric cooperatives with fiber subsidiaries will be empowered with reliable, high-speed broadband following a historic announcement from the Oklahoma Broadband Office (OBO).

The Oklahoma Broadband Governing Board authorized 142 broadband infrastructure expansion projects in 57 counties. Project funding is designated from Oklahoma Legislature-approved American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.

“Access to reliable and affordable broadband will enable better educational and healthcare services, stimulate economic development, and empower Oklahomans to leverage the online technologies of the future, regardless of zip code,” Mike Sanders, OBO executive director, said.

Approved projects for electric cooperatives will be carried out in 18 counties and total more than $76 million in awarded grants. The boost in funding will enable electric cooperatives with fiber subsidiaries to continue empowerment of the unserved and underserved with high-speed internet.

Selected co-ops to receive grants are: Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative based in Seminole; Central Rural Electric Cooperative’s Centranet, based in Stillwater; East Central Electric Cooperative’s ecoLINK based in Okmulgee; Indian Electric Cooperative and Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative’s Northeast Rural Services, Inc. based in Vinita, Oklahoma.

“The cooperative business model is uniquely suited to provide this essential service,” says Hunter Robinson, chair of the Cooperative Broadband Coalition and CEO of Central Rural Electric Cooperative and its fiber subsidiary, Centranet. “We stand on a legacy of bringing service to those who never had it, much like we did 80 years ago, bringing electricity to rural areas that were in the dark.”

To date, 10 electric cooperatives with fiber subsidiaries have connected more than 113,000 households, empowering 285,000 Oklahomans with reliable broadband. Co-op subsidiaries are bringing reliable, high-speed internet not only to residences across Oklahoma but to county offices, city offices, small businesses, farming operations, health organizations, public schools and educational institutions. “Providing rural broadband is an extension of the cooperatives’ mission to work toward quality-of-life improvements in rural areas of the state,” says Chris Meyers, General Manager of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Rural communities deserve the same opportunity as their urban neighbors. We thank the Oklahoma Legislature, the Broadband Governing Board and the Oklahoma Broadband Office for the opportunity to continue investing in broadband projects that change lives for the better.”