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Cherokee Nation to construct cell towers to serve rural Oklahoma communities

A cellular phone tower is shown on Monday, May 22, 2017 in High Ridge, Mo.
Jeff Roberson
/
AP
A cellular phone tower is shown on Monday, May 22, 2017 in High Ridge, Mo.

The Cherokee Nation has announced plans to build new cell towers to expand service to rural communities across eastern Oklahoma.

The tribe plans to build 15 new cell towers in 16 rural Cherokee communities where cell service and high-speed internet are lacking or nonexistent.

The Cherokee Nation is investing $80 million into the project over the next three years, using funding the American Rescue Plan Act.

“In the 21st century, cell service and broadband Internet are crucial for Cherokee families seeking employment and educational opportunities, healthcare services and a better quality of life,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. "A few years ago, COVID-19 highlighted the critical connectivity needs for Cherokee communities across portions of the Cherokee Nation Reservation."

The cell towers will tentatively be spread throughout Adair, Delaware, Cherokee and Sequoyah counties. The network also includes the Kenwood cell tower that was built in 2023 through a partnership with AT&T.

Proposed cell phone tower locations.
Cherokee Nation
Proposed cell phone tower locations.

“The impact of cell service and broadband Internet access on Cherokee communities cannot be understated,” Deputy Chief Bryan Warner said. “Too many Cherokee citizens have been isolated from so many opportunities simply due to a lack of cell service or broadband Internet."

The project is expected to be completed in 2026.

Cherokee Nation is also seeking proposals from qualified companies to design and build the cell towers.

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Nyk Daniels