Affordable broadband expansion possibilities

Council hears presentation from fiber optic newcomer

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Prior to their June 21 meeting, Yukon City Council and staff joined together for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the recently completed Wagner Road project. (Photo provided)

By Michael Pineda
Staff Writer

A rapidly expanding broadband company is seeking a franchise agreement with the city of Yukon. 

Should the Yukon City Council reach an agreement, city residents will have access to a cheaper alternative with fiber optic quality through Bluepeak. A presentation was delivered during a study session and was not a voting item.

The company, originally known as Vast Broadband, began in South Dakota  and Minnesota. It was purchased by GI Partners in February, 2021, and is undergoing a brand transformation to Bluepeak. It has experienced rapid expansion into Wyoming and North Dakota. 

Bluepeak has set its sites on expansion in Oklahoma, starting in Perry. With $400 million in equity funds, the company is committed to expanding its foothold in the state – current markets include Enid, Bartlesville, Choctaw, Stillwater, Harrah and Del City, among others.

Desi Stoops, vice president of market development, said calls started coming in from around the state inquiring about its services.

“We tiptoed away from Oklahoma City and Tulsa,” Stoops said. “As we have gotten more success in rural areas, we kept getting phone calls from people asking, ‘Why not here?’”

Stoops said the appeal of Oklahoma is the lack of broadband available, pointing out the state ranks 35th in the nation. 

Fiberoptic connections are made up of flexible strands of glass that transmit information through light. They are faster and more reliable than cable connections, which rely on copper cables to transmit through electricity.

“It is true fiber to the home, not a business or a district,” he said.

There are currently 10,700 rooftops in Yukon. Stoops said the city is an ideal location given the density of housing. 

AFFORDABLE BROADBAND

There are three residential plans that include a $10 discount for autopay and paperless billing. Available plans are:

  • One Gigabyte for $50
  • Two Gigabytes for $65
  • Five Gigabytes for $100

Commercial packages will also be available.

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In addition to Internet, Bluepeak offers streaming television packages. They include up to three simultaneous streams and 50 hours of cloud DVR recording for free. Those needing more can purchase up to 500 hours. Television packages include:

  • 14-plus channels — $50
  • 78-plus channels — $110
  • 136-plus channels — $120

Stoops said the benefit of streaming channels is the protection from losing service during a storm. Should the city approve a franchise, Bluepeak could begin installation in the fourth quarter or the fall. Of the fiber optic cable installed, 39 miles of it would be aerial and 66 miles would be underground.

“We would work with the city on additional subdivisions that come in,” he said. 

Also representing Bluepeak was Randy Beutler, the company government affairs associate for Oklahoma and former president of Southwest Oklahoma State University. 

COUNCIL MEETING

The agenda for the meeting itself was light. A renewal agreement was approved with Ice Challenge Enterprises, LLC, for the outdoor 

ice skating rink at Chisholm Trail Park for Christmas in the Park. 

There was also an agreement with the city of Oklahoma City for licensing with the city of Yukon for use of the public radio system for a one-year term with four successive one-year terms. 

During public comments, Rhonda Gillikin, a Yukon resident who lives on Wilshire Boulevard, spoke on behalf of Oklahoma City annexing the road. 

“I am here to give a ‘Yay’ on the annexation, if necessary to get Wilshire resurfaced and repaired where it needs to be done and maintained,” she said.

Gillikin said she, along with some of her neighbors, had not spoken out because they were under the impression the annexation was a done deal. They also did not realize there was opposition. 

“This started off on the wrong foot by having Oklahoma City present this proposal with, ‘Do you opt in,’ instead of this coming from Yukon,” she said. “So it put some people on a defensive mode as to what the problems can be. I certainly don’t want to have taxation without representation any more than anyone else doesn’t want that.”

Gillikin said as it is, she doesn’t have a lot of rights on the easement. She added first responders have shown up when needed, regardless of which side of the road there an emergency might occur. 

“I hate for the city to pass the opportunity of grabbing the ring on the merry-go-round and getting this road done,” she said. “If we can work an agreement with them and keep it as-is then that is marvelous. If we can’t, I will rally the troops on the ‘yay’s’ to get you more here.”

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