Bringing Fiber to Rural Northeastern Oklahoma
In late 2015, Salina-Spavinaw Telephone Co. (in short, SST) installed its first fiber-to-the-home neighborhood and announced long-term plans to install fiber service throughout much of its 600-square-mile service area. Since then, construction crews have been digging seemingly nonstop – often through solid rock – to expand SST’s fiber footprint.
Projects due for completion by year’s end will bring fiber past the homes of about 11 percent of SST’s 4,900+ customers. This includes customers in Rose, Spavinaw Hills, Leach, Kansas, Morgan Bell, and Wolf Creek Trailer Park. The bulk of installations will begin in 2018. Construction has also begun to bring fiber to Locust Grove.
The beauty of the area, which includes Lake Hudson and Spavinaw Lake, belies the difficulties faced by crews working their way up the foothills, down the hollows and through the area’s rocky geologic composition.
The current copper network was constructed, expanded and continually upgraded over 70 years. With no magic bullet for rolling out a fiber-optic network, the company and its employees are committed to a multi-year plan requiring substantial annual capital investments and long-term perseverance by SST’s construction crews.
SST provides high-speed data circuits and Ethernet to corporations, health clinics and schools located throughout its service area predominantly in Mayes and Delaware counties but also including portions of Adair and Cherokee counties. It also provides fiber to the home, VDSL, DSL, networking services, local and long distance telephone service and calling features to area businesses and homes.
SST was founded in 1945 in Salina, Okla., when Thomas and Addie Sheard began operating – out of their home – a single telephone exchange with fewer than a dozen subscribers. Over time, the Sheards added five more exchanges – Spavinaw, Locust Grove, Strang, Kansas, and Flint. The Sheards’ daughters, President Janet Robson and Vice President Nancy Cain, now manage the company
SST is the largest commercial employer in Salina and has business offices in Salina and Kansas.
SST focuses its corporate giving on education and public safety through annual donations to every school, police and fire department in its service area. Other areas of focus are Future Farmers of America, 4-H, area Head Start programs, and community events.