Broadband in the Arctic - A North Slope Success Story

Contact: Jessie Huff
(907) 761-7768

For decades, the villages on the North Slope of Alaska were dependent on satellite technology and copper networks for Internet access. High latency, high service fees, and aging infrastructure contributed to the sensation that these remote areas were falling behind.

Serving  the North Slope is the member-owned telephone utility cooperative, Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative, Inc (ASTAC). Based in Anchorage, ASTAC’s designated service area is a roadless, remote arctic area of more than 90,000 square miles, which is larger than 40 of the 50 states. The cooperative currently provides broadband ethernet, Internet, 4G wireless, and local and long-distance services throughout the region.

In January 2018, ASTAC finished installing fiber optic cabling and fiber to the premises technology to each building in the villages of Point Hope, Wainwright, and Nuiqsut. The new distribution fiber creates an end-to-end fiber optic broadband connection that is coupled with Quintillion’s subsea fiber network, which went live in December 2017. For the village of Point Hope, which is home to approximately 700 people, ASTAC received a $1.4 million grant from the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Community Connect Program to construct this fiber optic broadband network. The grant also funded the deployment of free public Wi-Fi as well as three computer kiosks in Point Hope’s Qalgi Community Center for community members to use at no charge. 

For the North Slope of Alaska, benefits from these fiber connections are immense, including faster Internet connections in the village schools and classrooms which allow for a limitless learning environment. The village hospitals and clinics also have faster, more reliable connections allowing for improved diagnostics and health monitoring of their patients as well as remote collaboration across medical providers. With RUS funding, ASTAC can continue to reach sparsely populated areas like Point Hope. By installing last mile fiber optic networks and upgradeable LTE wireless infrastructure, ASTAC is rebuilding network foundations capable of Gigabit speeds to take on the ever-changing demands of the next decade of innovation.

Obligation Amount:

$1,418,502

Date of Obligation:

7/9/2015

Congressional District:

Representative Young , AK-At Large ; Senators Murkowski and Sullivan

Partners:

ASTAC

Demographics:

Point  Hope

Impact:

This Community Connect broadband grant award provided the Point Hope community with broadband service that helps grow rural Alaska’s economy and enhance the quality of life for its residents.

Last Modified: 08/23/2018