Business Spotlight Building onto a grassroots effort that started with area small towns and farmers stringing their own telephone lines along the Kansas and Oklahoma border, KanOkla was formally organized and incorporated in 1951 to obtain USDA loans under the REA program to improve communication capabilities in our rural region. From home phones and party lines to the gig-capable fiber network it deploys today, KanOkla’s top priority is connecting rural communities to the world. A regional member-owned cooperative headquartered in Caldwell
with a board of seven local directors, KanOkla is proud to play an active role in the communities it serves, while continuing to create innovative solutions for its customers.
With a mission to serve its members with the best in communications technology, KanOkla constructed an underground fiber optic network twelve years ago, connecting fiber to every home and farm in its member area. Since the project's completion in 2015, a steady increase in internet usage has required additional investments in electronics to meet faster-speed demands. KanOkla has observed a 4X higher bandwidth usage since the pandemic! To break down these two most-used terms in the internet world: internet speed measures the transfer rate of data from point A to point B (like your computer loading a website), and internet bandwidth is the amount of data that can be transferred per second (sometimes referred to as the size of the pipe).
This increase in usage and customer feedback is what led KanOkla to the largest service overhaul in its 71-year history. Without increasing costs to customers, KanOkla rights
ized internet speed plans to match current demands and what customers will soon need in the future. In 2022 alone, Caldwell has seen a significant increase in remote work and school, which both require the upload capability fiber provides while attracting population growth to our rural communities to work and live.
Another exciting project has been a two-year goal to bring more customer access options to KanOkla services and accounts. Launching two mobile apps in 2022, the KanOkla Wifi app works in conjunction with KanOkla’s top-rated router for handy things like alerts when new things connect to your network, easier troubleshooting, speed tests, and best of all, it stores your wifi password. The new KanOkla Mobile app allows customers to easily view and pay their bills, set up auto-pay, and submit trouble tickets, with more features coming soon.
With a recent billing system upgrade, fiber expansion projects outside the traditional member footprint, community initiatives like matching funds programs and a revolving business loan fund, a brand refresh and January 2023 website redesign, and the almost complete renovation of the IOOF Hall upstairs at its downtown location, it is clear KanOkla thrives on investing in rural Kansas and Oklahoma for the future economic vitality for the next 100 years. As CEO Jill Kuehny stated, “A robust, future-ready fiber network is the foundation to enable the freedom to work, live, and thrive in small towns while reversing the population decline of the last century. From our young families, sage elders, future-looking schools, and healthcare to tech enhancements in agriculture and local businesses, everyone wants to participate in the modern world of technology to enhance the wonderful quality of life our region has to offer.”