AtLink Services begins second growth phase – Rural demand for high-speed broadband increases

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AtLink Services begins second growth phase – Rural demand for high-speed broadband increases

By most standards, Internet access is almost a given. It’s commonly used at school, homes and businesses and people rarely give it a second thought.

But Macey Wilson, community liaison for AtLink Services, witnessed a different story while manning a company booth during a recent county fair.

A young girl approached Wilson and asked if she could get Internet service. Wilson replied that she would check if the girl’s house was in the service area. Almost crying, the girl began to tell Wilson that she had not been able to attend college because she was taking care of an ill parent.

“She told me, ‘If I can get Internet I can do online classes and start to college,’” Wilson recalled.

Those types of stories are much too common in a lot of rural Oklahoma communities where high-speed broadband service is limited or nonexistent.

During the last two years, however, AtLink has pushed its way into rural markets and the reception has been overwhelming, said Lance Maxey, vice president of sales and marketing. During the last 24 months, the company has grown about 60 percent due to a band width that varies, a no-contract policy and unlimited data.

“In other words, they can watch NetFlix as much as they want,” said Lance Maxey, vice president of marketing. “There is no cap on how much (data) they can use.”

Success in the rural markets have allowed AtLink to begin a second growth phase into 40 other rural areas, including Ardmore, Ada, Tishomingo, Okfusgee, Sulphur, Wetumka, Sapulpa, Glenpool, Bristow, Prague, Tonkawa, Crescent, Pauls Valley, Asher, Bixby and Elmore City.

By the end of 2013, AtLink served 130 markets in urban, suburban and rural Oklahoma. By the end of 2015, the company expects to have three times that many. AtLink was recently awarded a U.S. Department of Agriculture Broadband Initiatives Program grant to provide service to 14 unserved and underserved regions in Oklahoma for the next 25 years, according to the company website.

The company website also states AtLink Services is the largest wireless Internet service provider in the Midwest.
Meanwhile, company officials continue to urge rural Oklahomans to subscribe to AtLink because of the educational necessities for students and the commercial requirement for businesses, which must have high-speed Internet to battle competitors or conduct routine transactions with customers.

As part of its expansion, AtLink now partners with chambers of commerce which endorse the company, allowing AtLink to develop partnerships with existing and new businesses.

“We want these businesses and the cities to be able to sustain themselves as we continue our growth into current or underserved markets,” Maxey said.

The demand from rural customers has been overwhelming, which is part of the reason for the second growth phase, he said.

“The rural response has been better than expected. There’s been a high demand to fill in the areas where the customers are but no service currently exists,” Maxey said.

Maxey specifically mentioned the Ada market, which includes East Central University and the Chickasaw Nation hospital.

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