Farm Director, KC Sheperd, is visiting with Oklahoma State University’s Brian Whitacre, talking about some exciting news and opportunities for broadband in Oklahoma.
Recently, Whitacre said, the national broadband map has been updated to include household and business locations and the list of internet providers that offer service to each location.
“Now, we finally have a map where you can go in and actually find your house, your barn, and see what providers are supposedly providing service at that location,” Whitacre said.
The new map will be used to help determine each state’s share of the Broadband Equity, Access Deployment’s $42.45 billion program funds. Organizations and individuals are encouraged to review the map for accuracy and submit challenges to the data.
“The more households that show up on the map in Oklahoma that do not have service, the more money we are going to get,” Whitacre said. “So, we want everybody with terrible connection to go in there and just verify that the data does show they have a bad connection.”
By visiting the FCC National Broadband Map, Whitacre said individuals can type in any address in the entire county, and a list of every provider that claims to offer service to your location will appear.
If a provider that does not offer service to your location is on that list, Whitacre said, individuals, can “challenge” that claim.
“If they say they offer service and you know they don’t, that is something you need to challenge,” Whitacre said.
Individuals should not only record their quality of connection in their home but also in other places on their property, such as a barn or warehouse.
“The way the map was built, is it is only counting residences or businesses,” Whitacre said. “They are basically overlooking any kind of ag structure.”
Whitacre also gave an update on the Oklahoma Broadband Office.
“We are still on the search for an executive director of that broadband office,” Whitacre said. “We do have an interim executive director in place, we have got some of what I understand are good candidates- I am actually not part of the search, but we do hope to have a final executive director in place in early 2023, and everything that we have seen to date looks like we are going to get a good chunk of that 40 billion dollars that is set aside for the nation.”
Whitacre said Oklahoma is expecting to receive about 1.5 billion dollars of the nation’s Broadband Equity, Access Deployment program funds.
“We are probably not going to start handing those grants out until late 2023, but the providers are excited, and they are thinking about what areas they want to serve,” Whitacre said.
Digital equity grants are also being awarded to each state, Whitacre said, and Oklahoma’s plan was accepted, so the state should be receiving funds to put forth a long-term plan to help Oklahomans take advantage of internet soon.
The final day for individuals to fill out their information in the FCC National Broadband Map, Whitacre said, is January 13, 2023.