Oklahoma Co-op Expands Broadband Operations With ARPA Assistance

Randy Sukow

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Bolt Fiber Optics to Expand Broadband Coverage to Remote Oklahoma Locations

BOLT Fiber Optics, owned by NRTC member Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (NOEC), has announced an expansion of its current broadband service footprint thanks to the recent award of more than $22 million in grants. BOLT plans to pass another 3,000 rural homes and businesses beyond the 27,000 it now passes. The plan calls for reaching unserved and underserved parts of Craig, Delaware, Mayes, and Ottawa counties by the end of 2026. 

The American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (ARPA SLFRF), the Oklahoma entity distributing funding from the federal ARPA program, announced the awards for 142 broadband projects on Jan. 25. Those awards will expend SPFRF’s entire $374 million budget. BOLT won funding for four proposed projects.

Competition for the funding was tight. According to Pivot’s Telecompetitor newsletter, ARPA SPFRF received applications for a total of $5.1 billion for more than 300 proposed projects. NRTC assisted BOLT in its application preparation. NRTC also is partnering with BOLT for design, project management, and construction management.

“The potential now exists for thousands more living here in northeast Oklahoma to access high-speed broadband internet. Many who have been waiting patiently for fiber-based services won’t be waiting much longer,” said BOLT CEO Daniel Webster.

“We applaud BOLT for its efforts to connect rural communities and appreciate the trust that has been placed in us,” said NRTC CEO Tim Bryan. “We promise to match that passion and dedication as we help make this project a reality.” While expanding its broadband service, NOEC is also investigating ways to use grant programs to enhance electric distribution. NOEC and NRTC recently toured PowerSecure facilities in Raleigh, NC, to study ways that microgrids and storage could apply to projects through the federal PACE program.

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