Grayhorse Broadband Project entering procurement phase

Photo caption: A photo of the Grayhorse Inlonshka arbor during the dances in June. Osage News File Photo

Construction preparation is underway for the Grayhorse portion of the rural broadband project. A pre-bid conference was held on March 24 for buried fiber construction, which represents approximately 33 miles between Pawhuska and Grayhorse.

“We also have an executed agreement for soil testing,” said Rick Perrier, Osage LLC board treasurer. “Testing results will be used by the tower manufacturer for foundation design purposes.”

The procurement process will be handled by the Osage Nation procurement office. The Request for Proposals (RFP) is expected in April and, once a contract is awarded, construction is expected to start within 30 days. 

The permitting process has caused delays for both the Grayhorse and Bowring broadband projects, but the Bowring portion trails behind Grayhorse. Osage LLC has received an extension from the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and is seeking an appraisal for the purchase of the necessary land. ACRS Telecommunications Consulting and Engineering Services is working on the fiber designs.

“We expect Bowring construction to start immediately after Grayhorse completes, if not before,” Perrier said.

Though construction is yet to begin, Osage LLC is looking ahead to determine the best approach for providing service to Osage customers.

“It will likely be one of three approaches,” Perrier said. “We will provide those services in-house, contract with an established provider, or we provide a hybrid approach of the two.”

Perrier said the decision will be based on what will provide the most value to the customer and to the Osage Nation.

The broadband project is a $3 million project funded through a Community Connects Grant issued through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program, with $450,000 in matching funds from the Osage Nation. According to the website, these grants are intended to help rural residents tap into the enormous potential of the Internet for jobs, education, healthcare, public safety, and community development.