At Gov. Brad Henry’s direction, a multi-agency team was formed to examine opportunities for the state to pursue the expansion of broadband infrastructure. Secretary of State Susan Savage led the team which included senior members from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (known at the time as the Office of State Finance), Oklahoma Department of Transportation, and OneNet. The Oklahoma Community Anchor Network (OCAN) proposal was the result of an intensive year-long process which focused on how to leverage state assets and create partnerships within the private sector.
The state received notification in August that the OCAN was awarded $73,998,268. These funds will be used to build 1,005 miles of middle-mile infrastructure that will connect 32 anchor institutions in underserved or unserved areas of the state. This fiber route will touch 35 of Oklahoma's 77 counties, approximately 89% of the state’s population, and is on state highway right-of-way.
A number of state agencies own, manage and maintain telecommunications infrastructures, both wireline and wireless. These agencies include the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education, Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), Oklahoma Department of Transportation, and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. The OCAN will enable the State of Oklahoma to bridge these disparate network configurations into a focused and aligned network and improve telecommunications access to areas of the state identified as unserved or underserved. Further, the OCAN is specifically designed to leverage public/private partnerships for the construction and long term sustainability of the infrastructure. The collaborative nature of the OCAN will continue throughout implementation.
As anticipated, there has been an enormous amount of interest in how and when these federal dollars will go to work in our state creating jobs. Organizational team meetings are currently underway and a series of open meetings will be held under the direction of Secretary Savage to brief service providers, community anchor institutions, as well as state, city, and tribal entities.
The award of this substantial federal grant is an exciting opportunity for Oklahoma to create long term economic, public health, public safety and educational benefits for citizens.