OKLAHOMANS PROJECTED TO BENEFIT
ESTIMATED PROJECT DURATION
more than 24 months
Garvin; Johnston; Murray; Pontotoc
Historically, the lack of broadband infrastructure in rural America is due to a combination of the high cost to serve and low population density. Markets have left rural communities in South Central Oklahoma behind, stifling their economic growth and resiliency. PowerLink seeks to partner with the Oklahoma Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief, to leverage historic funding to build a stronger more diverse economy in South Central Oklahoma by deploying a fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) solution to serve both unserved and underserved Oklahomans. PowerLink is requesting $47,109,000 in funding, which People?s Electric Cooperative will match, for a total project investment of $94,218,000. Project PowerLink is consistent with the US Treasury?s guidance and will deliver minimum speeds of 100/100 Mbps. This one-time investment in ?future-proof? infrastructure will bring a FTTP solution to 28,325 households equaling approximately 61,386 Oklahomans (including approximately 8,943 students from low-income families), 1,632 businesses, 63 community anchor institutions, and four qualified census tracts. The 14 communities within the project area understand and support the critical and immediate need for this transformational investment. Unlike their neighboring communities, services providers have not invested in these areas and without the proposed investment broadband will not be available to these communities in the foreseeable future.
According to the NTIA?s mapping tool, within PowerLink?s proposed area, the mean population per county without internet access is 27.2%. Approximately 25% of the population within this area is without internet access. Furthermore, the mean county-level M-Lab Speed Test value measured at 13.53 Mbps download and 5.30 Mbps upload, which is substantially less than the FCC?s outdated definition of broadband (25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload). The counties targeted by the FTTP solution have a greater population percentage without internet access than the national average and an average M-Lab Speed Test median less than the FCC?s definition of broadband.
The provided data demonstrates the lack of adequate broadband within Project PowerLink?s proposed area, which has significantly impacted COVID-19 response and recovery. The pandemic created serious challenges for healthcare. In response, healthcare facilities increased the availability of telehealth services, however, the lack of reliable internet access for end users limited the effectiveness of telehealth. Additionally, many employers relied partially, and some heavily, on telecommuting work arrangements to conduct day-to-day operations. Limited access to broadband created challenges for many employees working from home. The success of virtual work arrangements is contingent on the availability of reliable broadband. The pandemic also exacerbated the digital divide affecting students in the public school system, as many within the proposed area struggled to navigate the complexities of online learning with limited connectivity. Without reliable internet access, many students encountered significant challenges with the demands of online learning. In total, the proposed project will provide broadband access to approximately 45,883 unserved and 15,503 underserved Oklahomans, while assisting approximately 1,632 businesses and 63 community anchor institutions provide their employees, customers, patients, and students the internet service they desperately require to navigate the healthcare, education, and economic challenges further exposed by the pandemic.
PEC is equipped to manage the project and ensure key performance indicators are met. PowerLink assumed a take rate of 40% in preparing feasibility studies, however an actual take rate of 50% is estimated due to the lack of service in the proposed area. PowerLink has engaged with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) and Trace Fiber Networks (TFN) to assist in areas such as supply-chain management and broadband deployment. The combination of PEC?s resources and infrastructure, NRTC?s proven track record, and TFN?s extensive technological expertise, ensures this project will have everything required for a quick start and successful completion.
ONGOING INVESTMENT AMOUNT
ONGOING INVESTMENT DESCRIPTION
ONGOING INVESTMENT REQUIRED
Able to continue operation without additional funding from the State of Oklahoma
Investments in Water, Sewer, and Broadband
Broadband: ?Last Mile? projects
FEDERAL GRANT AMOUNT
FEDERAL GRANT DESCRIPTION
Other non or not-for profit entity
Data source: Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services / More information »