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Status of Broadband in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has historically lagged behind national averages in terms of broadband access and use.The chart below shows household adoption rates in Oklahoma and the U.S. over several years during the last decade.

Sources: Current Population Survey - Computer and Internet Use Supplement, 2001, 2003; Pew Internet Project - Home Broadband Adoption 2006, 2009; Oklahoma Bureau for Social Research - 2006 Oklahoma Social Indicator Survey.

According to Current Population Survey data, around 15 percent of Oklahoma residents had broadband connections in 2003, compared to 22 percent nationally. Although Oklahoma caught up to the national average by 2006, with access rates around 42 percent, by 2010 Oklahoma was again lagging with 56 percent connecting from home compared to 63 percent nationally.

Infrastructure (Supply)

While the FCC maintains data on the number of providers in a ZIP code (see the section on status of broadband in U.S.), this data has several problems and limitations. In particular, the data is taken from ZIP codes where at least one subscriber exists. Since satellites can provide Internet service just about anywhere, the FCC data really does not indicate the level of infrastructure that exists. A better picture can be obtained by looking at the phone and cable companies that offer DSL and cable Internet service throughout the state. According to the FCC, these two sources accounted for approximately 90 percent of all residential connections in the nation in 2009. This data is available from NECA Tariff # 4 data and Warren Publishing's TV and Cable Factbook, which list all telephone exchanges and cable offices in the state - and tell which ones provide broadband access. This data is shown below for the years 2003, 2006, and 2009.

Click on each image to enlarge it.


These figures show that the diffusion of wired broadband infrastructure across Oklahoma has been fairly dramatic over this period. The state benefited from AT&T Oklahoma's "DSL 100" Initiative which pledged to bring DSL access to 68 small rural communities around the state during 2006 and 2007. They also benefited from some very forward looking rural phone companies, such as Panhandle telephone. However, broadband access is still not "universal," as a number of cities throughout the state still have no broadband infrastructure available to them. Further, although cable and DSL services may be offered in a city, they are not necessarily offered to the surrounding rural areas. In fact, a well-known rule of thumb is that DSL service is limited to a 3-mile radius around the telephone exchange where the equipment is located (GAO, 2006). This leaves many rural areas without access to any type of broadband infrastructure.

Use (Demand)

As noted above, about 56 percent of Oklahoma residents had a broadband connection on 2009.However, the gap between urban and rural residents of the state is significant - about 9 percentage points. This rural - urban gap has decreased since 2006, when it stood at 14 percentage points.

Source: Oklahoma Bureau for Social Research - 2006 Oklahoma Social Indicator Survey, Current Population Survey, 2009.

This "digital divide" is not unique to Oklahoma, it is also occurring nationally. To bridge this gap, rural residents must learn to take advantage of broadband technology when it is available, and must also try to find ways to obtain broadband infrastructure when it is not. The sections of this website dealing with effective use of broadband and help for communities without infrastructure offer some ideas on how to accomplish this.

Some additional links:

Government Accountability Office. "Broadband Deployment is Extensive Throughout the U.S., but it is Difficult to Assess the Extent of Deployment Gaps in Rural Areas. Report GAO-06-426." May 2006.