OKALOOSA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — A project to bring 60,000 customers fiber internet service is underway in Okaloosa County.

The county announced a $100M project to bring LiveOak fiber broadband into the area. WKRG News 5 spoke with LiveOak exclusively Monday to find out where this fiber access will be placed.

LiveOak staff said they are placing Fiber in the south end of the county, reaching as far north as Crestview. Over time, the company hopes to expand North to areas of Baker and Holt.

“We’re looking to get started in some areas where there’s density. So the map is accurate and we’re going to hit that kind of southern part of the county, but we’ve also had great meetings with the city up in Crestview, and there’s a lot of growth up there,” said Steven Smith, Chief Revenue Officer.

“We’d love to include Crestview as fast as possible,” said Jody Craft, President of LiveOak Fiber.”We’re working with the county to try to make that happen as soon as possible. Because we see the need in Crestview. We actually spent some time in Crestview one day and the local shop owners and the residents we’re telling us of the need.”

Okaloosa County recently conducted a study with residents to check internet speeds around the county. LiveOak said they did not use that research to determine their buildout.

Customers with interest can go to LiveOak’s website to sign up for notifications. The company will begin the hiring process on August 1.

What is next?

“So now that we’re funded, we are, you know, we’re we’re setting up our office in Florida, in Okaloosa County, and we’re finalizing our lease on that in the coming weeks,” said Craft.

“We’re beginning our hiring activities on August the 1st,” said Craft. “So on August the first we’ll have our careers portion of our website up with job listings so people can participate in being hired for our open positions, or at least a recruitment process for open positions.

“We’re going to begin our detailed design work with the local municipalities and the county and the towns and the the utilities to plan where we need to build our fiber plants in coming months,” said Craft. “And then we would expect by January of next year we’d actually begin construction of this fiber optic plant, and once we begin construction shortly thereafter, weeks, not months, we begin offering certain initial services to our first customers.”

Why it is needed?

“I think the pandemic has showed us that upload speeds are just as valuable as download speeds,” said Smith. “The pandemic has showed us over the last two years that people want to work for one company, but live in other places and now Okaloosa County will be a place where people can go and work for these companies and get the same connectivity that they would have had in a previous place, better actually.”

“It’s the fastest offering in the US that we will have,” said Craft. “So if you’re connected to our fiber network you should have very low latency, which means that if you’re working from home, there’s no glitchy web conferencing. If you’re gaming from home, you’re the fastest player on the console. If you’re streaming from home, your video is perfect, as if you’re in the theater. If you’re learning from home, it’s as if you’re in the classroom. This is what we’re wanting.”

Will it count for tourists?

“We’re building infrastructure. That’s utility infastructure through the homes and businesses,” said Craft. “It’s not for the computer. It’s not for someone who comes in for a temporary amount of time and leaves. It is for people to actually own property, rent property, live here, work here.”

“So first of all, we’re a local company focused on the local population,” said Craft. “Next of all though, we envision over the long term having Wi-Fi networks available to our subscribers that they can leverage by being a local customer, they get access to a local Wi-Fi footprint.”

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