Osage Innovative Services, a tribal enterprise that falls under Osage LCC, reported March 31 that its broadband website is live and accepting service requests.
About 50 households have already signed up for the internet service, which kicks off in Grayhorse and will spread to the Pawhuska and Hominy villages, then beyond to virtually all of Osage County, Jim Trumbly, the director of OIS told the LLC board on March 31.
On Saturday, April 2, from 1-3 on the Osage Nation campus at the Osage Nation Museum, the tribe will celebrate the formal launch of the project with free music, free meat pies and other treats, games, a job fair and installation sign-ups, Trumbly said.
OIS has contracted with a company called AtLink Services, which specializes in providing rural Oklahoma with internet service. The company uses state-of-the-art fixed wireless Ericsson radios to transmit Wi-Fi signal to customers. The prices: $50 a month for download speeds of 25 Mbps and 3 Mbps upload speed, $75 for 50 Mbps upload and 10 Mbps download, and $85 for 100 Mbps upload and 100 Mbps download, according to the freshly launched website Osagebroadband.com. The service requires no contracts, no activation fee, no equipment fee, and no caps on data usage.
The initial project was funded with a $3 million USDA Community Connect grant and $450,000 from the Nation, but OIS has applied for $25 million more from USDA and $41 million from the federal National Telecommunications and Information Administration for future expansion. Trumbly said he hopes to get about $15 million from USDA based on the grant point-ranking system and is hopeful that the entire NTIA grant will come through.
“I am highly optimistic about our chances on this one,” he said.
OIS is also working with the city of Pawhuska to become its broadband supplier, starting with “stringing fiber optic cable to the street department and the power and water department first, then from there to the rest of city facilities,” Trumbly said. From fiber optic hubs at the city Fire Department and Community Center, Trumbly said he expects OIS to then “reach out” to expand service to the city library, schools and hospital.
OIS is also “dropping fiber optic cables” in Fairfax for use by the Nation and just west of Pawhuska to service the airport and homes in that area.
OIS did hit one stumbling block with the USDA due to a contractor error related to the radios use to transmit the Wi-Fi signal, but the issue ended up working out to the benefit of OIS and its future customers. The original Ericsson radios fell afoul of the USDA’s “Buy American” requirement, but they were replaced with much better radios that are twice as powerful – at no cost to OIS, Trumbly said.
In Pawhuska and Hominy, OIS is to put transmission equipment on the water tower and a radio tower for about two years, until it can get fiber optic cable laid.