Last-Mile Partnerships Key to Delivering Broadband to Rural Communities

John Hennessey Staff Headshot
John Hennessey, OneNet Executive Director

Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to meet with several of OneNet’s last-mile partners here in Oklahoma. These meetings have reminded me how important partnerships are to OneNet and to delivering broadband to rural communities across our state.

When OneNet was developed in the 90s, the network was designed as a middle-mile network. This means we connect communities throughout the state. To connect our network to our subscribers (the last-mile connection), we formed partnerships with local telecommunications companies that serve rural communities.

Since the 90s, our partnerships have grown. While some partners have been with us for over 20 years, we are always willing to work with new providers. Today we partner with approximately 30 companies across the state.

How does it work? When OneNet receives a service quote request, we send a quote request for the last-mile connection to all of our telecommunications partners in that area. Once we receive the quotes, we select the provider with the lowest quote, unless there is a special service requirement that another provider can address better. We then add the cost for OneNet to provide connectivity on our middle-mile network and the upstream connection to the internet and send the quote to the subscriber.

This is a win-win for everyone involved. While we leverage our middle-mile network to provide affordable services to rural communities, utilizing partners for the last-mile connections keeps those services in the community. In fact, last year we paid telecommunications partners nearly $12 million for last-mile connections.

Learn how OneNet’s last-mile partnerships work!

I appreciate all that our partners do to improve broadband services in their communities. As Oklahoma’s research and education network, OneNet provides internet access to higher education and technology center campuses, research institutions, K-12 schools, healthcare facilities and government entities, not to private residence or private business. While we know that many Oklahomans still lack access to broadband services, our partners are making investments in rural communities to bring broadband to residents, businesses, schools, hospitals, municipalities and other local organizations.

OneNet also has the opportunity to facilitate services for telecommunications companies through our management of the Oklahoma Community Anchor Network (OCAN). This middle-mile network provides a variety of services, including lit and dark fiber, that help telecommunications companies expand their service areas into communities throughout our state.

As OneNet’s leadership team plans for our future, we remain dedicated to serving as a middle-mile network and continuing to utilize our partnerships with local telecommunications providers.

We recently developed a new values statement for our organization. One of those values is Building Partnerships.

“OneNet seeks strategic partnerships that enable us to achieve more than we could alone. By developing public-private partnerships at the local, state and national levels, we bring together organizations to eliminate boundaries and create value for our subscribers.”

Our last-mile partners are key to this effort, and we look forward to continuing to serve our great state together for many years to come.

If you are a telecommunications provider in Oklahoma and would like to partner with OneNet, please reach out to

1 Comment

  1. William "Bill" Thoms on August 3, 2023 at 2:28 am

    As the Oklahoma Senate’s staff person for the State Data Processing and Telecommunications Advisory Committee in the 1990’s, I worked closely with Sen. Ben Robinson to help bring OneNet to life. Now long retired, I’m happy to see that OneNet still seems to be flourishing. Best wishes.

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