The foundation of OEC and OEC Fiber
The Annual Meeting is the perfect time to reflect on the past while building toward the future. As we near the completion of the initial build of our fiber network, a look into our history and where we come from gives us guidance on what path to take next.
OEC Fiber would not exist without OEC itself. The need for reliable and affordable electricity was apparent in 1937. Still, none of the existing electric companies were willing to service rural Oklahoma. That is why a group of intrepid farmers banded together with their neighbors to form Oklahoma Inter-County Electric Cooperative. They went door-to-door to rally the community behind the idea that they could do more together.
OEC has done more for our members than simply turning on the lights. We feed back into our communities by investing in our youth. Youth Tour is an annual event that takes high school students on an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. The vision was for cooperatives across the nation to send students from every state to our nation’s capital to learn about our country up-close and personal. The first tour took place in 1963 with approximately 400 students from 12 states. Now, more than 1600 students participate each year. 
Another way we continue to care for our communities is through Operation Round Up®. This program is funded by the generosity of our members. By rounding their bills up to the nearest dollar, OEC has contributed more than $5 million to local service organizations and individuals in need. This program has paid for everything from equipment for volunteer fire departments to dental care for those that would otherwise not have access. By contributing just a few cents every month, our members have helped us change our world for the better.
There are many needs in the world today. And while OEC cannot solve them all, we did find one we could tackle in forming OEC Fiber. Like electricity in the 1930s, the internet is an essential modern utility.
Despite housing our operation in the third-largest city in the state, many of our members had little to no access to internet service. Answering the call, OEC Fiber was formed in 2017 after a survey of our members told us they needed this vital service. This project has reached milestones at a record-breaking pace. As we near the completion of our initial system build with nearly 30,000 subscribers online, it is crucial that we continue to drive forward and find new ways to keep pushing the envelope.
Our commitment to improving lives has led to the development of the OEC Fiber app. We know that everyone has unique needs when it comes to their internet usage. The app allows subscribers to customize their service to meet their individual needs. With the addition of ProtectIQ and ExperienceIQ, our subscribers can rest easy knowing their networks are secure and their families only see the content they want.
Every step of the OEC and OEC Fiber journey is driven by a desire to serve our communities and improve lives. Now, as we celebrate being able to come back together again after so long, we can enjoy what makes us different. The people. Each of us shares the dream of a world built to be better, and with the help of our members and subscribers, we are paving the way to a brighter future.