December 2022 Vol. 77 No. 12


Strategic Partnership Brings Affordable, Reliable Fiber to Rural Communities

(UC) — According to a 2021 study from BroadbandNow, at least 42 million Americans do not have access to broadband internet. 

Access to affordable and reliable broadband in the 21st century is largely considered a critical infrastructure necessity, just like transportation, electricity and water. Extending broadband to rural America is crucial for nurturing robust economic growth, enriching educational opportunities, expanding access to health care through telemedicine, improving public services and safety, and increasing civic engagement.

Community members, Bluepeak and Mears personnel, all gathered for a momentous groundbreaking ceremony that brought fiber to the rural community of Perry, Okla.

The need for fiber connectivity in rural America was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly every element of day-to-day life turned virtual. Those without access to reliable internet have been left out since March 2020. But how do communities make the jump to fiber, when coaxial cable internet connections from the 1990s and 2 megabits-per-second download speeds are often the only option available? 

Quality tech to all 

Most major telecom providers overlook rural parts of the United States where there are not enough people to sustain a robust network. These providers don’t want to risk cutting their margins by making investments in smaller communities. 

This means that for the roughly 60 million people – or one in five Americans – living in rural America, there is generally only one, if any, internet provider option. In fact, BroadbandNow released an interactive National Broadband Map that shows the disparities in access to broadband providers between rural and urban communities across the United States. 

This gap is where Bluepeak comes in. Bluepeak is a cable internet provider with a plan to bring fast, reliable internet access to rural America. The company offers top-tier technology, so customers in small to mid-size communities have competitive provider options. 

“The size of the community shouldn’t determine the quality of the technology,” said Jesse Granger, director of communications at Bluepeak. 

Several members of the Bluepeak executive team grew up in rural communities yet spent their careers building fiber networks across urban areas of the United States, and even the world. With the gap COVID-19 created, now felt like the perfect time to go into small communities and bring fiber to those who need it most. 

“There are a lot of underserved communities in Oklahoma. It’s antiquated technology. A lot of people had been promised the moon,” explained Joel Deason, director of construction and engineering at Bluepeak, as he illustrated the impetus of the company’s decision to build its fiber network in rural America. 

Over the course of 2022, Bluepeak has been working to launch fiber in nearly 20 markets across Oklahoma alone. The first was Perry, Okla. 

Desi Stoops, vice president of market development at Bluepeak and a Perry native, said the team looked throughout the state and realized there were anchor markets – or centralized places from which the service provider could reach multiple markets – that weren’t connected to Oklahoma City and Tulsa, two of which being Stillwater and Enid. Perry happens to fall right between those two, making it an ideal location for such a fiber project. 

Cultivating community partners 

With the decision made to bring fiber to rural America, Bluepeak needed a strategic construction contractor to make this vision a reality. 

Rather than solely focusing on installation speed, Bluepeak knew a project of this size and magnitude needed a collaborator who would truly be a partner to these tight-knit communities. With this at the top of mind, Bluepeak selected Mears Group, a community-focused construction infrastructure contractor. 

To incorporate essential input into every project, Bluepeak and Mears representatives work closely with local community members before breaking ground. A key part of this engagement involves hosting forums that help residents understand the scope of the project, construction impacts during project development and the benefits the project will provide, once completed. The meetings also allow community members to get their questions answered, and to provide insight and input that ensures the project best fits their wants and needs.

In addition to meeting with community leaders, Bluepeak and Mears strive to minimize community disruption. This involves developing construction plans that properly anticipate and communicate any activities that may impact community members, such as planned outages or road closures due to construction. 

“When we’re in the neighborhoods, we want to be good neighbors. Not just their construction’s one big team,” explained Deason. 

To further enhance community engagement, Mears makes it a priority to hire locally. To this end, Mears works with staffing agencies or hosts job fairs to hire talented operators to work on projects that directly impact their own family, friends, neighbors and community. 

Being a good neighbor and building community partnerships is what sets this fiber connectivity project apart from others. In particular, the project in Perry has a seemingly never-ending knot of community ties. When Bluepeak partnered with Mears as its construction contractor, it was only fitting to use Ditch Witch machines – a legendary brand that has had strong community roots, since it started in Perry over 70 years ago. 

“Working with Ditch Witch has been great,” said Deason. “Anytime that we’ve asked for anything, they’ve stepped in. They’re truly part of the Perry community.” 

Being in Ditch Witch’s hometown brought a new level of excitement to the endeavor. “The nicest thing about working with Ditch Witch is the people,” said David Owen, program director at Mears Group. “It’s just a bonus that the equipment is really good.” 

For Bluepeak installations, the Mears team generally uses equipment on the smaller side – like Ditch Witch’s JT20, AT30 and stand-on skid steers – so it can easily maneuver through residential areas without compromising power and productivity. 

After completing an installation, Mears works closely with the local government to ensure proper restoration of the job site. In Perry, for example, Mears laid 69,000 feet of underground fiber optic cable, all of which was covered when the job was complete, making it seem to the community and visitors that construction had not even happened. 

Room to grow 

One of the many Perry community members who has taken advantage of Bluepeak’s fiber internet is Spencer Tetik. As a motion designer and video editor working for an agency based out of Kansas City, he depends on fast internet speeds to upload and download large graphics or videos. 

“With my previous internet provider, speeds just weren’t there, and it made things a bit of a struggle. Sometimes uploads or downloads would time out, which made it challenging to do graphic design work with subpar internet,” said Tetik. “When I heard that Bluepeak was coming, I immediately started looking into it. With Bluepeak, I can upload and download materials almost instantly. It’s done before I even have time to think about it.” 

Tetik lived in Kansas City for nearly 10 years before he decided to move back to his hometown to be closer to family. 

“Access to fast internet allows people who work for bigger companies the opportunity to work from smaller cities like Perry – giving them room to grow and to welcome different kinds of people here in town,” he said. 

The fast, reliable internet capabilities that Bluepeak and Mears have brought to rural communities across the country, have helped to keep them on the map. 

The partnership has produced outstanding results. Owen explained that the effort is reaching an average of 5,000 households per month, with the capacity to reach nearly 12,000 in warmer summer months. 

“Bluepeak really re-wrote the book on speed-to-market. It’s pretty impressive,” said Owen. “They are moving like I’ve never seen a company move before.” 

Not only are Bluepeak and Mears able to bring fiber internet to thousands of rural households at an affordable rate and fast pace, but they’re doing so with the community at the forefront of every project. This has allowed for a smooth transition to fiber and ensured that this critical infrastructure is easily accessible. 

Bluepeak and Mears currently have about four to five years’ worth of projects in the pipeline, and it’s only growing. The opportunities these projects are bringing to rural communities are truly endless.


Bluepeak, (888) 975-4258, 

Mears Group Inc., (281) 448-2488, 

Ditch Witch, (800) 654-6481, 

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