Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative is rewriting the story in rural Oklahoma with a fiber-to-the-home broadband revolution that leadership hopes members will be talking about for decades to come

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Juli Orme General Manager, Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative

“The word has gotten out that the co-ops are forging the way in broadband, not just in Oklahoma but across the nation. Once that secret was out, it’s catching fire. People are looking to us to be that provider.”

“As a cooperative, we are going to walk this together with our members. When we have those challenging times, we are going to take a little bit of time together to make sure we work through it. We’ll make sure they have the resources they need. It will only be as successful as we make it successful.”

Fiber Networks by the Numbers

Total Miles of Fiber: 2,500

Market: 18,000 homes and businesses

Territory: 100% of cooperative territory

Timeline: 3-year buildout

Customers Served: 14,000+ customers

Juli Orme
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Rewriting the story of rural Oklahoma

Juli Orme, general manager of Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative in eastern Oklahoma, remembers the stories her grandparents used to tell her about getting electricity for the first time.

“You just don’t hear of those people very often anymore,” Orme said. “People today don’t really remember or they don’t know about it. They’ve always had electricity. But at Cookson Hills Electric, we’ve been trying to figure out how to keep that story alive so we don’t forget.”

The cooperative, an 18,000-meter territory centered in rural Oklahoma’s Haskell and Sequoyah counties, is embarking on a new initiative with the potential to have as much impact now as the introduction of electricity did for cooperative members back in 1948.

Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative is embarking on a three-year project to build out a state-of-the-art fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network to deliver lightning-fast symmetrical broadband Internet service. Service, offered through new fiber entity Cookson Hills Connect, will be available to 100 percent of the cooperative’s membership when the project is complete.

Orme said her cooperative team hears about the need for reliable high-speed Internet on a daily basis, from businesses and community groups as well as from phone calls from members wondering whether the co-op is planning to participate.

“The power of broadband to transform lives has become word of mouth across the nation and it’s catching fire. People are looking to us to be that provider,” Orme said. “Our members think that the cooperative has a good story and we’ve had a good plan. We’ve been successful and we can do it again with broadband.”

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Juli Orme, general manager of Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative in eastern Oklahoma, remembers the stories her grandparents used to tell her about getting electricity for the first time.

“You just don’t hear of those people very often anymore,” Orme said. “People today don’t really remember or they don’t know about it. They’ve always had electricity. But at Cookson Hills Electric, we’ve been trying to figure out how to keep that story alive so we don’t forget.”

The cooperative, an 18,000-meter territory centered in rural Oklahoma’s Haskell and Sequoyah counties, is embarking on a new initiative with the potential to have as much impact now as the introduction of electricity did for cooperative members back in 1948.

Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative is embarking on a three-year project to build out a state-of-the-art fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network to deliver lightning-fast symmetrical broadband Internet service. Service, offered through new fiber entity Cookson Hills Connect, will be available to 100 percent of the cooperative’s membership when the project is complete.

Orme said her cooperative team hears about the need for reliable high-speed Internet on a daily basis, from businesses and community groups as well as from phone calls from members wondering whether the co-op is planning to participate.

“The power of broadband to transform lives has become word of mouth across the nation and it’s catching fire. People are looking to us to be that provider,” Orme said. “Our members think that the cooperative has a good story and we’ve had a good plan. We’ve been successful and we can do it again with broadband.”

“Broadband is a new industry for me and for my entire staff. Our core business is electric, and we have no familiarity with this. So we’re learning,” Orme said. “Since Conexon has come in, there is a solution for any question I can possibly ask, a group of people I can turn to, and so many resources there. I know that Conexon is going to do everything possible not to let us fail.”

Cookson Hills Electric’s partnership with Conexon has expanded to include project management, network design, construction, engineering, and marketing as well as technical support services after launch.

Although the direction of the cooperative is shifting to a different mindset as it enters the more competitive arena of broadband communications, Orme said she believes the mission of the cooperative remains true.

“We still have that cooperative spirit that will keep our consumers always at the heart of what we do. We’re there to provide a service for the people in the rural areas more than anything else,” Orme said. “Conexon carries that same mentality as they assist us through the process.”