More than 1,000 rural Alaskans in five communities along the Yukon River will receive affordable, high-speed internet for the first time thanks to a tribal broadband grant funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
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The collaboration between Doyon, Limited and Alaska Communications will connect one of the most underserved regions in the United States with a fiber-optic cable that will be the foundation for expanding broadband to communities in the region. This transformative project will give rural residents access to virtual meetings, online classes, telehealth, and online jobs without having to leave their village or way of life.
The communities served include Fort Yukon, Beaver, Stevens Village, Rampart, and Tanana. Alaska Communications will deploy a fiber-to-the-home network in each community, offering up to Gigabit speed service at affordable rates. The network will connect to the Alaska Communications’ core fiber network in Fairbanks, Alaska.
The project is part of the Alaska FiberOptic Project, a larger collaboration between Calista Corporation, Doyon, Limited, Gana-A ‘Yoo Limited and Alaska Communications to connect up to 20 communities along the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers with fiber-optic cable. This segment is the first of three segments to get funding.
The four companies recognize that reliable, affordable, high-speed internet is the foundation for education, healthcare, economic growth, and quality of life. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of broadband and illuminated the growing digital divide across Alaska. The Alaska FiberOptic Project will bridge that divide for many rural communities.
“There is no better time than now to connect our communities,” said Aaron Schutt, President and CEO of Doyon, Limited. “This project will provide the most reliable, affordable, and fastest internet today and for the next generation. Today’s announcement is the first step of many, as five villages in our region will be connected. Doyon looks to use this project as a backbone of connectivity and continue bringing our villages online. For generations the river has been a transportation hub, and we look forward to continue the tradition of bringing information and goods across our river system.”
“This is an exciting milestone for Alaska,” said Bill Bishop, president and CEO of Alaska Communications. “We’re honored to work with our partners on a project that will be life-changing for many Alaskans, providing the technical expertise and experience building, operating and maintaining critical broadband infrastructure. We thank the NTIA along with President Biden, Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan for their support bringing this important infrastructure to our country and state.”
“Alaska’s geography, terrain, climate, and vast size have created significant obstacles to developing broadband infrastructure. But rural Alaska is no less deserving of connectivity. For the first time, some of Alaska’s most underserved communities will receive high-speed internet access made possible by the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grant program. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 created this program and made $980 million available for grants to eligible Native entities for broadband deployment. Leading up to its passage, I made sure the program would meet the unique needs of Alaska, with broad eligibility for Native entities. I commend the partnership and coordination of the successful applicants in securing this grant, which will be transformational,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
Alaska Communications will begin the permit and construction process as quickly as possible. It will also offer a $75/month discount for households on qualifying Tribal lands through the Affordable Connectivity Program. Customers can learn more and enroll at acpbenefit.org.
Headquartered in Fairbanks, Doyon, Limited has more than 20,100 shareholders and was established under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Doyon has subsidiaries in oilfield services, government contracting, and tourism, is also the largest private landowner in Alaska and one of the largest in North America. Its mission is to continually enhance its position as a financially strong Native corporation in order to promote the economic and social well-being of its shareholders and future shareholders, to strengthen its Native way of life, and to protect and enhance its land and resources. For more information, visit www.doyon.com.
Alaska Communications, a subsidiary of ATN International, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATNI), is the leading provider of advanced broadband and managed IT services for businesses and consumers in Alaska. The company operates a highly reliable, advanced statewide data network with the latest technology and the most diverse undersea fiber optic system connecting Alaska to the contiguous U.S. For more information, visit www.AlaskaCommunications.com.