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Cooperative Reborn: OEC Fiber carries on a proud history

Coop History Reborn

OEC Fiber proudly takes its roots from the rich history of cooperatives. Born from the legacy of Oklahoma Electric Cooperative (OEC) in 2017, it shares the values and expectations of cooperatives nationwide.

Cooperatives differ from investor-owned utilities. They are owned by the people they serve. Many started with just a few people banding together to try and make life better for themselves and those around them. This commitment to improving lives traces back over eighty years when local individuals pioneered rural electrification in Oklahoma.

In the 1930s, rural areas faced challenges in accessing electricity. Larger power companies hesitated to bring them electricity because of the cost associated with extending their electric lines. Imagine what life would look like without electricity–no lights or refrigeration and only wood-burning stoves to cook with or heat your home. It was a difficult existence.

Farmers from Cleveland and McClain counties decided they wanted better. They joined forces to solve the issue. This led to the birth of Oklahoma Intra-County Electric Cooperative on January 12, 1937, later renamed OEC.

Fast forward to the present century, internet access has become the transformative utility of the current century that electricity was in the last. Internet access allows families to enhance their lives in ways a group of farmers in the 1930s could never have imagined. Working and learning from home. Virtual medical appointments. The list goes on. By having Wi-Fi in the home, families blow open the doors of opportunity.

Yet, not everyone enjoys the blessing of equal access to this life-changing service. Even in Norman, Oklahoma’s third-largest city, some families lacked home internet access. This was unacceptable.

Once again, the cooperative spirit rose to address the community’s needs. OEC conducted a feasibility study in 2017 to see what it would take to bring internet service to their members. The report said it would take five to seven years to complete. OEC Fiber initiated construction in April 2018 and connected the first subscriber to the internet in February 2019. What was supposed to take five to seven years became history in the making, taking a fraction of the time expected to establish service.

Today, OEC Fiber proudly serves over 38,000 subscribers. Despite its different name, it embodies the same commitment to community. OEC Fiber goes the extra mile to ensure that everyone can have the internet they need for a better quality of life. Drawing inspiration from the rich history and core principles of cooperatives, OEC Fiber has positioned itself at the forefront of a movement that will only continue to grow, making life better for all Oklahomans.

To learn more about the amazing history of OEC and OEC Fiber, watch The Power of Connection with OEC and OEC Fiber (youtube.com)

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