Community , Business

Nation wins USDA grant to establish broadband internet company; first phase includes Grayhorse

The Grayhorse area is about to get high-speed internet.

The Nation recently won a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Connect Grant, which the Nation’s Utility Authority will use to start its own broadband company. The first phase will be to provide high-speed internet to the Grayhorse and Bowring areas.

“The broadband business enterprise will be operated by Osage Innovative Solutions, the technology group within Osage Nation's Tallgrass, LLC. Construction on the network will start soon with an expected completion date of 24 months,” according to news release.

Paul Bemore, chair of the Utility Authority, has said the opportunity for the Osage Nation to own its own telecommunications company will greatly serve businesses and residents of Osage County. He said the USDA grant will be used to fund the fiber optic cable that will run from Pawhuska to the Grayhorse and Bowring areas. Bowring is located about 20 miles northeast of Pawhuska.

Last year, the Utility Authority hired Oklahoma City-based ACRS Telecommunications to conduct a broadband feasibility study of the areas and to apply for additional grant funding. On Feb. 27, the Fifth Osage Nation Congress appropriated a $450,000 tribal match to cover administrative costs of the broadband company for two years.

“In addition to the combined vision of Osage Nation’s Executive and Congress, a variety of Osage Nation departments and others are also responsible for contributing to the success of the project,” said Mark Kirk, ON Director of Information Technologies, in the release. “Those include Environmental and Natural Resources, Grants Management, Historic Preservation and Information Technology, along with the efforts of the ONUA [Utility Authority] and Tallgrass, LLC.”

The USDA’s Community Connect Grant helps fund broadband deployment into rural communities where it is not yet economically viable for private sectors to deliver service, according to the Department’s website.

For more information, contact Osage Nation Information Technologies at InformationTechnologies@osagenation-nsn.gov.