Centranet Aims to Expand Rural Network With Help from Electric Cooperatives

Centranet has deployed approximately 3,000 miles of fiber in rural Oklahoma, connecting up to 15,000 residents.

Centranet Aims to Expand Rural Network With Help from Electric Cooperatives
Screenshot of Centranet's Director of Government Business and Economic Development, Sachin Gupta.

June 25, 2024 – Internet Service Provider Centronet announced on June 11 that it aims to reach up to 50,000 connections with its fiber broadband network in rural Oklahoma by 2027 through partnership with electric cooperatives.

Director of Government Business and Economic Development at Centranet, Sachin Gupta, said that the company has been working with the Cooperative Broadband Coalition of Oklahoma to deliver fiber networks to its residents. This coalition is a collaborative group of multiple electric cooperatives across Oklahoma, consisting of 11 cooperatives, mainly in the eastern part of the state.

“Our community network expands significantly in Oklahoma due to this collaborative coalition. The Cooperative Broadband Coalition does many things together, making joint decisions on how to advance broadband within Oklahoma,” said Gupta. He added that Centranet is currently serving roughly 20,000 subscribers.

Centranet's approach includes reaching communities beyond their current subscriber base and areas lacking electric service, facilitating the development of a community-owned network over recent years.

Screenshot of where Oklahoma electric co-ops in broadband businesses are located

Reflecting on the comapny's progress, Gupta noted, “it has been a learning process for us. As I showed you on the map, there are multiple electric co-ops in the broadband business. Thankfully for us, some of them were in this business before we got into it. We were able to lean on them, ask them questions, and learn from their experiences."

In the current year alone, Centranet has deployed approximately 3,000 miles of fiber, connecting 12,000 to 15,000 members at a rate of four to five subscribers per mile. The initiative is enabled by over $52 million in federal and state grants, earmarked for extending services to small rural communities with populations ranging from 300 to 5,000 residents, according to Gupta. 

Gupta said in September 2023, when Centranet entered the final stage of building over 4,000 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure to serve about 17,000 households, that collaboration between rural providers is essential for bridging middle-mile gaps in networks. He stated that broadband providers with small footprints working to connect their networks can compensate for the lack of middle-mile fiber infrastructure in rural areas.

Centranet's strategic investments and partnership with the Cooperative Broadband Coalition represent a major stride toward achieving widespread broadband access across rural Oklahoma.

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