Northeast Oklahoma is getting more than $6.7 million dollars from the Federal Communications Commission to improve internet access in rural areas.
The FCC said the funding will be award to internet providers to expand broadband service for 2,400 homes and businesses in Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, and Ottawa Counties.
This represents the ninth wave of support from the 2018 Connect America Fund Phase II auction, part of a federal initiative to “close the digital divide” and “connect residents with opportunities made possible by high-speed broadband.”
Those living in the country told News On 6 they appreciate the slow-pace, but not when it comes to the internet.
"I have to use my hot spot on my phone, which isn't as great, but it does the job sometimes,” said Stephanie Bark, a Mayes County Resident.
Bark lives between Salina and Locust Grove and said service has been spotty for years. She was thrilled when News On 6 told her the government is paying to help her community get faster internet.
“Awesome, maybe we got prayers answered,” Bark said while laughing.
Michael Jansen, FCC Director of Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force, told News On 6 although the focus is on northeastern Oklahoma, the impact is beyond that.
?"There’s certainly a possibility that through these deployments, there's going to be increased availability and competition for locations that aren't funded through the auction,” said Jansen.
Other residents in Mayes County, like Rick McGavock who owns Dogwood Mobile Home Village, said it's about time for a change.
“We’re getting modern up here,” said McGavock proudly.
McGavock is hopeful improved internet infrastructure will attract people to the area.
“You can't take care of your business on a lot of things if you don't have the internet,” said McGavock.
The FCC said the internet providers that get FCC funding must have everything installed and running by the end of 2025. The funding comes from the universal service fund, which is made of fees consumers pay through phone bills.