Broadband Census Oklahoma
Editor's Note: This is the third in a series of articles surveying the state of broadband, and of broadband data, within each of the United States. The complete list is at http://broadbandcensus.com/blog/?p=713. Or visit the BroadbandCensus.com Broadband Wiki. Help build this wiki by making a contribution to BroadbandCensus.com.
By William G. Korver, Reporter, BroadbandCensus.com
August 6 – Oklahoma may be without a statewide broadband strategy, but earlier this summer Oklahoma City re-launched what is being billed as the largest city-owned and operated municipal Wi-Fi network.
Although the Wi-Fi mesh network went live in September 2006, it was re-launched in an expanded mode on June 3, 2008. It is devoted exclusively to public safety and municipal use, and is not available to the public.
The city joined Corpus Christi, Texas, in launching a municipal wireless broadband network for municipal use only. Minneapolis and Riverside, Calif., are among the cities that offered mixed-use networks, allowing the public to access the system for internet connections, as well as for city function.
By concentrating on public safety needs first, some experts say, Oklahoma City’s wireless network may be more likely to succeed where others have failed.
"The trend in municipal wireless broadband is definitely moving towards either a mixed use or municipal use only,” Esme Vos said in blog post on MuniWireless.com.
Using $5 million garnered from a public safety sales tax and city capital improvement funds, Oklahoma City built a network that has more than a 1,000 mesh nodes from Tropos Networks. The cities of Tulsa and Norman are considering similar projects.
Oklahoma City’s wireless network covers 555 square miles. Of these 555 square miles, about 95 percent of urban areas are served at the minimum speed of 512 kilobits per second (Kbps).
In addition to these mesh nodes that are placed on buildings, utility poles, street lights, and siren towers, 900 mobile nodes will be installed in police cars, fire trucks, and other city vehicles.
Besides the police, the fire department, and the city inspectors, other Oklahoma City departments should soon have access to the network, according to Vos.
Outside of Oklahoma City, public broadband initiatives in the state have been limited. One fiber optic network, DiamondNet in the rural town of Sallisaw, began construction in mid-2004, with customer connections beginning in 2005. About 1,200 currently subscribe.
In constructing a municipal-built fiber optic system, the city management of Sallisaw believes that it was able to address such areas of concern as faster Internet connections, lower costs, and more television channels and reliability.
According to a document prepared by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service of Oklahoma State University, the Oklahoma Technology Council and the Oklahoma Municipal League also have programs to help facilitate broadband deployment in Oklahoma for rural areas interested in fiber-optic connections.
Overall, however, the state does not have an official broadband strategy, said Matt Skinner, public information officer for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Skinner said that broadband availability within Oklahoma is within the neighborhood of 60 percent to 65 percent.
Skinner said that the federal government's involvement in broadband issues had left some uncertainty over whethe the state commission had authority over broadband carriers.
No state-wide broadband legislation is pending, said Skinner.
Broadband Census Resources:
- Oklahoma City's Wi-Fi Network, MuniWireless.com
- Oklahoma City's New Government Wi-Fi network, by Associated Press
- Sallisaw's Municipal Fiber-to-the-premise Network [PDF], Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service of Oklahoma State University
- Municipal Broadband Nationwide, CNet's News.com
- Map of Wireless Broadband in Oklahoma, from One Las Vegas