Project will Provide High-Speed Communications Technology to Support Economic and Educational Opportunities
ANCHORAGE, Feb. 21, 2020 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Alaska State Director Jerry Ward today announced that USDA is investing $3 million to improve rural broadband service in Atqasuk.
“Expanding availability to world-class healthcare, educational, social and business services, requires we make high speed internet accessible in rural America” Ward said. “USDA is committed to doing our part in ensuring rural Americans and Native Alaskans are not left behind economically, because we believe that when rural America thrives, all America thrives.”
USDA is making the investments through the Community Connect Grant Program. Investing in telecommunications infrastructure connects people to each other: businesses to customers, farmers to markets, and students to a world of knowledge. Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative (ASTAC) will use a $3,000,000 Community Connect Grant to construct a 70 mile fiber route to eliminate the current satellite backhaul that supports existing customers, build an approximately 5 mile Fiber-to-the-Premises system to benefit approximately 150 residents and 37 businesses, and upgrade an existing wireless system to an LTE network in Atqasuk North Slope Borough. This broadband network will provide significant benefits to this remote area by improving their economy, educational access, public safety and quality of life. A community center will be provided in an existing building where residents can access the Internet free of charge for at least two years.
Speaking of the project, State Director Ward said, “From improved health care access to modernizing our educational and workforce resources, these funds will be influential in guaranteeing rural Arctic and Alaskan communities remain competitive in the global economy.” Mr. Ward went on to say, “We are grateful for the leadership President Trump and Secretary Perdue have shown in concentrating on improving broadband connectivity in rural Alaska.”
In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Increasing investments in rural infrastructure is a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.
To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.