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Oklahoma Countryside

Stephens County Oklahoma


The Stephens County, OK Broadband Team has completed its community technology assessment. The results of the assessment can be found by clicking the symbol for each of the sections below. The Recommended Actions section includes steps the community can implement to improve the broadband and technology ecosystem at a local level.


Connected Infrastructure in Stephens County, Oklahoma

Broadband access refers to the infrastructure that enables a high-speed internet connection. There are two primary types of broadband connections: fixed and mobile.

Fixed broadband is delivered to a user via several technology platforms including cable, digital subscriber line (DSL) over phone lines, fiber optics, and fixed wireless. Fixed broadband is designed for stationary use at a fixed location such as a home, business, or institution. From one location, however, fixed broadband service is often broadcast as a Wi-Fi network to connect nearby devices.

The following map shows where broadband is available in the community.


Recommended Actions

The following recommendations are presented to assist Stephens County in expanding broadband access and adoption throughout the community.

A residential survey was deployed in Stephens County between September and December 2023 to assess the connectivity, affordability, and general technology needs of the county’s residents. Based on data from this countywide survey, online research, and direct community feedback, the following recommendations are presented to Stephens County.

Oklahoma was allocated $797 million under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) via the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and the Digital Equity Act. These programs will fund projects that help expand high-speed internet access and ensure Oklahoma communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy by promoting diverse digital advancement projects. This federal funding opportunity is a once-in-a-generation infusion of money the state will administer to eligible entities via a competitive grant program. Therefore, for the county to capitalize on this opportunity, it is paramount that Stephens County establish a formal Broadband Council to ensure that 1) the community is staying on top of the state, local, and federal broadband happenings and 2) the community is prepared to act expediently when the right opportunity comes along to close the local Digital Divide.

Objective: Stephens County should capitalize on state and federal funding opportunities to promote greater broadband access for residents, businesses, and local entities representing agriculture, education, public safety, and others.

Action 1Establish central broadband leadership in Stephens County by creating a formal Broadband Council.

Establishing leadership is essential. A Broadband Council representing key community sectors and county partners ensures the county stays informed of critical broadband efforts and opportunities. The Broadband Council will maintain a local presence to keep the community interested and engaged in internet adoption and expanded internet deployment.

Broadband Council advisory members should include representatives from a variety of community stakeholders, such as:

  • Health care: Local physicians or hospital staff
  • Government: County Commissioners, Mayor, City Council, County IT Director
  • Education (K-12): Superintendents, School IT Directors
  • Public Safety: County Sheriff’s Office, Police Department, Fire and Rescue and surrounding Volunteer Fire Departments, Emergency Medical Services
  • Agriculture: County Ag Agent, leading ag producers
  • Business: Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development
  • Library: Public Library Directors, librarians
  • Community At-Large: Someone from the community who is interested in broadband.

The Broadband Council should meet regularly to discuss broadband opportunities and share information regarding connectivity across their respective sectors.

Responsibilities of the Broadband Council should include: 

  • Staying abreast of state and national broadband policy initiatives and notable broadband news. The council should stay current on publications, events, and policy briefs published by the Oklahoma Broadband Office, Oklahoma Broadband Expansion Council, and Oklahoma Broadband Governing Board and monitor notable broadband developments via industry newsletters and focused research.
  • Informing the community of projects and progress and inviting community participation to maintain buy-in and high adoption rates. Getting community buy-in is essential to community initiatives' long-term success and sustainability. The success of local initiatives requires community support, transparency, and engagement. This will help keep the momentum going and show internet service providers (ISPs) there is genuine interest in expanded service in the area, which will encourage more significant investment in the region.
  • Supporting applications from qualified entities for applicable state and federal grant programs.
  • Attend workshops, webinars, meetings, and general training, specifically discussing telecommunications and broadband.
  • Providing digital literacy and digital skills assistance to the community’s at-risk populations.
  • Holding regular meetings. The council should meet at least once a quarter. Meetings can be held virtually, in person, or in a hybrid capacity to accommodate members’ needs. These meetings should provide updates on community activities, allow time for guest speakers and presentations, and offer an open discussion forum about county broadband advancements.

Action 2Develop a website to promote local broadband resources.

The county should create a website as a one-stop resource guide for ISPs, community residents, and local leaders. The website should include resources related to digital literacy, digital skills, reduced-cost broadband offerings, public computing centers, and other relevant broadband information for residents and ISPs. Having a comprehensive set of resources in one location makes it easier for the public to access this information and for the county to highlight all available connectivity support.

Timeline: Establish a Broadband Council and set up a website with pertinent resources immediately.

Responsible parties: Government leaders, business leaders, economic development, and chamber of commerce


Broadband readiness

Broadband leadership

Objective: Ensure all residents have access to the internet and speeds that meet their needs for work, education, telehealth, and quality of life purposes.

Data from Stephens County indicates that 76% of surveyed households subscribe to download speeds faster than 25 Mbps. Despite this, 52.4% of respondents reported dissatisfaction with their current service. Ninety-one percent of respondents said the price was too high, while 64% said the connection was unreliable. Ninety-six percent of all respondents said they would like improved or additional options for broadband.

Action 1Maintain open communication and positive relations with ISPs working or scheduled to work in the county, as well as ISPs interested in expanding in the county.

ISPs can be critical partners for communities looking to expand broadband access. Checking in regularly with ISPs allows community leaders to stay abreast of construction and expansion progress or changes in plans, to identify challenges they are facing, and to communicate community goals and objectives. This open communication allows ISPs to better understand community needs and for communities to better understand the obstacles and barriers ISPs face. This understanding can encourage creative problem-solving, which can lead to finding solutions through public-private partnerships. Public-private partnerships are arrangements between public entities, such as local governments, and private entities, such as ISPs, to achieve a common goal. They are often, but not always, funding arrangements.

Additionally, the county should strive to be an environment amenable to business. This means having easy-to-use websites that allow ISPs and vendors quick access to relevant information, as well as fostering a business environment that rewards open communication and timely resolution of concerns.

Action 2Provide survey data to all local providers.

When meeting with providers, community leaders should address the Connected survey results, highlighting the need for faster service at an affordable price. It is essential that providers understand the consumer base in Stephens County to provide the best customer service experience. Fifty-two percent of households with a broadband subscription report being dissatisfied with their service, citing slow speeds (73%), unreliable connection (64%), high prices (91%), and poor customer service (45%) as the leading reasons for dissatisfaction. Despite the long list of providers available in Stephens County, over 95% of those surveyed want more choices at home. Armed with this information, broadband providers can strategically address their service areas and improve access and education about services throughout the county.

Action 3Pursue state and federal funding for broadband advancement.

As mentioned previously, the infusion of federal funds to the state via BEAD and DEA is an opportunity for Oklahoma communities to support ISPs and other entities looking to expand infrastructure and programs supporting robust broadband delivery. Stephens County should explore the best ways to support providers who are considering buildouts in the community.

In addition, other funding sources, such as the U.S. Economic Development Association or the U.S. Department of Agriculture, promise opportunities for broadband. (Funding guides are linked in the resource section.) Capitalizing on this once-in-a-generation funding opportunity will be paramount to ensuring that Stephens County residents have faster, more reliable broadband for years to come.

Action 4Partner with local ISPs to promote low-cost broadband programs.

In Stephens County, the average monthly cost of internet service is $80.42. For those who subscribe, the cost is the leading factor for dissatisfaction, with 91% of respondents citing it as a hefty burden. The county should work with community leaders and institutions to publicly promote programs and opportunities designed to reduce the cost of broadband service.

Below are some programs and resources that are available to residents.

  • Resources to locate affordable internet service or computers: Using online resources, Stephens County residents can identify local and national providers who offer special low-cost services for vulnerable populations, older adults, and low-income families with children. Resources include EveryoneOn (, which helps residents locate low-cost internet services and affordable computers by ZIP Code and by need, based on their participation in assistance programs.
  • State and federal low-cost programs: Two critical programs offer discounts for broadband to eligible households:
  • Lifeline is a federal program administered through the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Universal Service Administrative Co. that lowers the monthly cost of phone or internet services for eligible consumers. Consumers can get up to $9.25 off the cost of phone, internet, or bundled services each month. Households can qualify based on income or participation in federal or tribal assistance programs.
  • The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)* was created to help households struggling to afford internet service. The ACP provides a $30 a month credit toward internet coverage ($75 a month for qualifying residents on tribal lands) and up to $100 for the purchase of a device. Households can qualify based on income or participation in federal or tribal assistance programs. To receive the connected device discount, consumers must enroll in the ACP with a participating provider that offers connected devices. The internet company will provide the discount to the consumer and then seek reimbursement. Find out which providers participate by clicking here. The ACP tool kit is a great resource that communities can use to promote the program to residents.

*The ACP is set to expire in spring 2024 unless Congress appropriates more funds. Because this is an expiring program, it’s more important than ever for community leaders and residents to partner with local ISPs to provide low-cost broadband programs to bridge the affordability gap so no home is left offline. 

Additionally, ISPs often offer consumers low-cost options or subsidized programs at a significantly reduced cost. The IIJA requires internet providers that receive federal grant money to offer low-cost service to eligible low-income households. Local advocacy for internet affordability, using Stephens County-specific data, will be essential to ensuring residents can continue to access online information and virtual resources. The Broadband Council can play an integral role in helping local ISPs see the importance of affordable broadband plans for residents and businesses.

Timeline: The sooner Stephens County can begin infrastructure development and improvement, the better. Residents and businesses benefit when there is good broadband and open communication between ISPs and end users.

Responsible parties: Local and county governments, business leaders, Broadband Council


Objective: Partner with libraries and community organizations to provide digital literacy training.

Broadband connects people to the world and opens the door to myriad opportunities. Where there is broadband, there is development, achievement, and innovation. In rural Oklahoma, broadband fosters economic development, greater scholastic achievement, advancement in agriculture and farming, connection to telehealth services, infrastructure improvement, and general technological advancements. In Stephens County, it is important to embrace broadband for how it can both contribute to and improve the current way of life.

To effectively engage online, an individual must have the digital skills necessary to navigate the internet safely. It is critical for residents to take advantage of applications that support their education, health, and workforce needs. Many organizations and institutions locally and nationwide provide digital training and support to their clients to ensure they can access programs and resources online. Promoting these opportunities and encouraging new partnerships to ensure all residents have the digital skills necessary to participate in the digital world will increase engagement, adoption, and internet use in Stephens County.

Action 1Develop a curriculum for free community workshops.

Community leaders should partner with local and regional organizations to facilitate free digital literacy and digital skills workshops designed to increase digital engagement across the county. Workshop curriculum should be curated using material created by the county and publicly available programs, such as AARP and Digital Learn (resources linked below). Classes could be offered at local facilities, such as the school gym or the community center, and be advertised through the local media. The intention is for residents and community leaders to understand the importance of digital engagement and to feel comfortable using online platforms. The more the community engages online, the more residents will reap the benefits of the digital world.

Workshop topics can include:

  • How to teleconference
  • Cybersecurity 101
  • Microsoft Office skills
  • Intro to social media and website building
  • Telehealth basics

Connected Nation provides digital literacy training classes to Connected communities free of charge. To learn more, reach out to us today!

Action 1AProvide instruction in varied formats for greater community involvement.

In addition to hosting in-person workshops, the general curriculum should be available for pickup at frequently accessed public locations in the form of paper handouts. Handouts function as a “grab and go” resource for residents to take with them to review later. In this way, everyone can benefit from the content in whatever way is most compatible with their schedule and preferred learning method.

Action 2Partner with community stakeholders for workshop execution.

Finding broadband champions who can share the impact of technology from their perspective can help class participants understand the broad impacts of connectivity. Industry leaders can speak to the importance of broadband in their respective line of work. For example, a banker can discuss the benefits of online banking, while the school IT Director can discuss the importance of online safety. Building on local expertise will help drive workshop attendance and meet the unique needs of Stephens County residents.

Timeline: Digital literacy and digital skills workshops for residents and businesses should be available throughout Stephens County by fall 2024. The community should routinely assess the curriculum to determine if updates are needed.

Responsible parties: Broadband Council, community anchor institutions such as businesses, schools, libraries, organizations, local government leaders and elected officials, broadband providers, and community residents


Digital Literacy


Action 1Pursue grants to advance local community development using broadband technologies (e.g., workforce development, telehealth, digital literacy, etc.).

In conjunction with the countywide Connected Engagement program, Stephens County has been allocated grant writing funds. For specifics, please contact Connected Nation.  

The goals and actions outlined in this document provide the framework for county leaders to prepare for and pursue applicable funding opportunities and program advancements designed to close the Digital Divide in Stephens County. Through countywide partnerships and collaborative efforts, the community can advocate for and provide equitable, affordable, and reliable broadband access for all residents, businesses, and community anchor institutions.