a man smiles at the camera for a portrait.
LiveOak Fiber's Chief Revenue Officer, Steve Smith has more than 20 years experience in the telecommunications industry.

LiveOak Fiber Reaches Halfway Mark in Okaloosa County Internet Rollout

Live Oak Fiber is halfway through installing high-speed internet in Okaloosa County, bridging the digital divide and bringing connectivity to thousands.

LiveOak Fiber announced that it has reached the halfway point for installing its high-speed internet network in Okaloosa County. 

However, the idea of overhauling Okaloosa County’s internet began during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief Revenue Officer Steve Smith and President Jody Craft of LiveOak Fiber- veterans of the communications industry – saw how the inability to access affordable high-speed internet separated the haves and the have-nots. “It’s very personal to me because I have seen what broadband can do for communities and individual lives, especially for students in high school. I know in Glynn County, [Georgia], many students couldn’t attend class during the pandemic because they didn’t have internet capabilities at home. And that’s why you’ve got people parked outside of McDonald’s to get free access to wifi, just so they could submit homework assignments.”

The company, founded by Jody Craft and Steve Smith, has hired 100 employees and begun serving several thousand customers in Okaloosa County and Glynn County. The company has spent $145 million building its infrastructure in Okaloosa County. 

LiveOak chose the two counties to start its business by looking for communities that experienced a rapid post-COVID-19 growth rate “Completely underserved by the incumbent providers,” said LiveOak Chief Revenue Officer Steve Smith. “Whoever had been there had been an absentee landlord. Infrastructure had not been updated in a long time.” Smith added that both locations had a strong local talent pool to draw. “If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that ‘I can go somewhere else and work. I don’t have to go into an office.'”

RELATED: LiveOak, Cox, and Valparaiso Cable compete for customers [WITH DATA SPEEDS AND PRICES FOR EACH PROVIDER]

Smith notes that the work is not complete, and more customers will soon have an option between them, Valparaiso Cable and Cox. In Valparaiso, he believes the whole city will have access to its internet system in 2-3 months. 

Smith added that they are about halfway complete in Destin and are beginning work in Valparaiso, Fort Walton Beach, and Crestview. LiveOak still has some connectivity to install in the Niceville area as well. 

Check to see if you have LiveOak as an option here.

Finally, Smith noted that the company has expanded its network to Camden and Chatham County, Georgia as well as Bay and Walton County, Florida. 

Dealing with Breaks and Water/Sewer Strikes. 

With any new construction – there have been some issues with existing water and sewer infrastructure. 

Some of LiveOak’s contractors have hit water and sewer mains as they’ve excavated to lay pipe in the Niceville area – but the city’s public works director says poor mapping of underground utilities has a lot to do with it. “There’s been a lot of strikes, but a lot of it is the city’s fault, where lines aren’t spotted, and we missed out on some service lines,” Public Works Department Director Jonathan Laird said, “It’s hard to spot sewer services without fluid running through the service lateral – it’s hard to pick up, so, we don’t charge them for that. A lot of it is not marked. We’re working together to get them out as quickly as we can.

an old flag of the line sailing ship.
USS Constitution is tugged out to Fort Independence on Castle Island during ‘Old Ironsides' Chief Petty Officer Heritage Week underway. During the selects' week spent aboard Constitution, Sailors teach them a variety of time-honored maritime evolutions while living and working aboard the ship. | 📸Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Casey S Scoular

More About LiveOak Fiber

LiveOak Fiber serves two markets – northwest Florida and the Golden Isles of Georgia’s southeast coast. 

The name of the company comes from the timbers that American Shipwrights used in the Revolutionary War to build the ships that would fight the most fearsome sea force in the world at that time, His Majesty’s British Royal Navy, on the coasts and shipping lanes of the New World. The United States Government built the USS Constitution, also known as ‘Old Ironsides’, from Georgia Live Oak. It is the oldest naval vessel in the world still on active duty. The Constitution was built after the Revolutionary War, in 1797, and participated in several wars on behalf of the Stars and Stripes. 

The company was founded in August 2022 and is based in Brunswick, Georgia. 

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