Support for Broadband in Alaska

According the FCC’s 2018 data, 25 million Americans and 31 percent of rural Americans do not have broadband available to them. NTIA’s BroadbandUSA Technical Team is establishing broadband in rural communities such as in rural Alaska.

The Technical Team assists communities in rural Alaska and provides solutions and technology neutral advice on many issues. The team also provides market assessments, revenue modeling, determines construction schedules, and details specific steps that the local government can do to help private providers speed up deployment of their broadband infrastructure.

Alaska Communications, a provider of advanced broadband and managed IT services operates an advanced statewide data network with the latest technology and a diverse undersea fiber optic system connecting Alaska to the contiguous U.S.

Alaska Communications is now bringing new services to Utqiagvik, Kotzebue, Point Hope, and Wainwright. For the first time, Native corporations, government agencies, healthcare clinics, schools, and businesses can access competitive, high-speed reliable broadband and managed IT services. Quintillion headquartered in Anchorage, is providing the fiber optic broadband network to bring lower-cost high speed broadband service options to rural Alaska.

However, on May 8, 2018, a letter was sent by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC)  Ajit V. Pai Commissioner to Anand Vadapalli, President and CEO at the Alaska Communications Systems Group.

The Commissioner spelled out his thoughts in a letter when he learned that Alaska Communications is reconsidering their participation in the Universal Service Fund’s Telecommunications program. Commissioner Pai’s letter makes it clear that Alaska Communications must continue to provide services to rural healthcare providers it serves so healthcare services can be continued in the state

He also stated in his letter that the Alaska Communications must not charge rural healthcare providers a rate higher than the urban rate. In other words, federal law prohibits Alaska Communications from charging rural healthcare providers for the unpaid balance that Alaska Communications hopes to receive from the Universal Service Fund.

The Commissioner also summed up in his letter, “Alaska Communications may not deny or cut off service to any of its existing rural healthcare provider customers for lack of payment of any charge higher than the urban rate.”

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