The last homesteader laid down his claim in 1974, building up his home in Alaska from white spruce trees, fishing and hunting each day. Thousands of people came before him, creating their livelihoods from nothing. Now, bringing a reliable, fast internet connection to everyone in Alaska is taking center stage, as a telecom provider is set to ramp up internet speeds in the Valdez and Copper River Basin region.
It’s estimated that 67 percent of Alaska’s rural population lacks access to broadband internet, amounting to just about 168,000 people. An inability to access the internet not only severs a common connection that the world has with each other, but it also has negative economic effects on communities and towns. Bringing broadband to rural communities improves quality of life and provides opportunities that otherwise would not be available.
“What we’ll be doing now is reaching out into increasingly remote areas of our service area, into places like Glennallen and Copper Center,” said Tabitha Gregory, Chief Customer Relations officer at Copper Valley Telecom. “It’s possible to put these higher speeds into a lot of our state.”
While there’s often a premium on roads and bridges when we talk about infrastructure, broadband infrastructure is extremely important as the discussion surrounding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure heats up. It’s unfair to leave entire populations of Americans behind simply because there is insufficient infrastructure connecting them to the internet. The GAIN coalition is happy to see Alaskan telecom focusing on bringing this important resource to as many people as possible.