INOLA, Okla. — High-speed hybrid internet access is now in the homes of some Inola residents, but the ultimate goal is to get it in every rural community in Rogers County.
Ruby Estates, a neighborhood in Inola, was the first neighborhood to get hybrid internet access via $139,000 of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding, according to Roger County Information Technology Director Brett Williston.
Staff at Atlas Broadband, of Oologah, installed an internet tower, and fiber optics in the neighborhood this week. The company started with only three people in 2002, and now it's a 30-person team, according to Owner/CEO Milos Milenkovic.
“We decided to try a model where we will do point-to-point wireless from wherever really fast internet is available to the housing edition that is targeted," he said.
Milenkovic’s team builds the towers and installs them in neighborhoods. He says the towers are good for about 15-20 miles, and don’t require long cabling. He said that's important for rural communities, like Ruby Estates, since they don’t have existing fiber connections in the ground.
“I believe the closest fiber connection [in Ruby Estates] is over eight miles, I believe, from there," Milenkovic said.
Rogers County leaders say for nearly three years they’ve been listening to concerns from residents in Inola and other towns about the need for fast internet.
Williston said ARPA money paid for the hybrid launch in Ruby Estates. He said it will cost about $20 million to bring hybrid, high-speed internet to every underserved Rogers County resident, just under 14,000 people.
Rogers County staff say they’re expected to announce another broadband internet project that’s even bigger than Ruby Estates next week.
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