Skip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.
Edit
Opinion: In rural Oklahoma, high-speed internet access is critical... and hard to get

Opinion: In rural Oklahoma, high-speed internet access is critical... and hard to get

  • 0
{{featured_button_text}}
Ismael Martinez, Jr.

Ismael Martinez, Jr.

I am one of many who has been working remotely for over a year now.

I still have a physical office in downtown Tulsa, but since the start of the pandemic, I have been working from home, approximately 26 miles from downtown in rural Skiatook.

I am a mid-career professional who was able to use my rural home address and limited connectivity as a natural boundary to keep work at work.

When we moved from the Tulsa urban area, I knew there was going to have to be some compromising. One of the amenities that I miss is reliable high-speed internet, which is now a necessity.

I’m not sure my urban friends understand why high-speed internet access is an urgent issue to rural Oklahomans, so let me tell you more about what I and my family have experienced this year.

Early on, while I juggled the new remote work circus, I used my cellular phone as a hotspot. That worked great until the number of people needing access at home grew. I needed to get an alternative method for internet that did not tie up my phone all day and that was able to accommodate multiple users and devices.

I dug through old posts on social media to see how other people had dealt with the same problem. I explored the short list of available options in my area and, ultimately, I called up a satellite internet company for service.

The installation date could not come soon enough as our household transitioned into central office and school. The kids began online schooling and the adults at home suddenly started having more and more video conferences. The first month of service was a testing time.

It also helped establish a baseline of our expectations on home internet service. I had logged all our devices to the home internet and even streamed a few movies and shows. Needless to say, the streaming service was not going to cut it and was quickly excluded from list of acceptable activities.

I am fortunate to be able to afford the incremental cost of metered internet and my child’s school is able to provide mobile hotspots and devices for its students. Between our home internet service and the kids’ mobile hotspot we have been able to make it work most of the time. Trouble brews when my child forgets to charge the hotspot and we are reaching the monthly caps or spring storms roll in and the cloud banks bring service to a halt.

The limited high-speed access has grown to be somewhat of a stressful subject that I keep in mind when the number of what was once just a quick call has turned into a lengthy video conference. On occasion, our household has to plan the number of devices that can be used so that the bandwidth does not lag my remote connection to work or drop connection to my child’s virtual school lesson.

I hope that rural residents will someday soon have fair access to reliable high-speed internet. I look forward to technological advances that will level the playing field and spur competition to lower the costs for rural high-speed internet access.

I continue to keep tabs on companies like Tesla and their rapid Starlink expansion and monitor other options like utility-sponsored projects to bridge the gap in access. Until then, I’ll be kicking it old school watching the latest releases on DVD and save the streaming services and on-demand options for the future.

Ismael Martinez, Jr. is a resource planning manager for AEP and a member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board. Opinion pieces by Community Advisory Board members appear in this space most weeks.

Featured video:

Wayne Greene readers the April 26 Tulsa World editorial, "Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum proposes a prudent budget in uncertain times, but still targets priorities for improvement"

Ismael Martinez, Jr. is a resource planning manager for AEP and a member of the Tulsa World Community Advisory Board. Opinion pieces by Community Advisory Board members appear in this space most weeks.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Catch the latest in Opinion

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

Breaking News