Rural broadband initiative nears completion, looks to expand into new areas
The Oklahoma Community Anchor Network project celebrated its second anniversary in July, and the rural broadband project is about 88 percent complete. Leaders say they hope to see the network expand to serve more communities after the project completes its initial objective.
The network is scheduled to be fully operational at the 32 sites by July 31. At that point, leaders hope to identify more sites nearby to include in the program, said Sonja Wall, the network's program manager.
Initially, Wall said, the state identified the 32 sites that would be easiest to reach and had the highest need. Once that network is in place and the federal grant period has ended, OneNet will begin expanding to other sites.
Once complete, the network will increase the capability of many kinds of services in rural areas, Royal said. For example, officials at Seiling Community Hospital plan to use the system to increase the hospital's ability to use telemedicine, or the use of telecommunications technology to provide clinical care across distances.
“There's a huge amount of telemedicine that takes place across the state,” Royal said. “But one of the biggest obstacles that they're facing is connectivity.”