The Indigenous non-profit corporation responsible for health and social services for the majority of Alaska’s interior will receive $30.3 million US to help build up high-speed internet in the region.
Nobody at the Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) could be reached for comment on Monday, but in a news release on Friday, the TCC leader said the grant was an important step for the region.
“[The Tanana Chiefs Conference — TCC ] is proud to have secured funding for this vital infrastructure project on behalf of our tribes along the Koyukuk River,” Chief/Chairman Brian Ridley said.
“This network is a key part of TCC’s ongoing strategy to narrow the digital divide for our tribal members and to improve the standard of living for our people.”
The grant funding will come from USDA’s ReConnect Program. The initiative provides both loans and grants to facilitate greater broadband service in rural areas.
The grant announced Friday will go towards building a fibre network that will serve individuals, businesses and education facilities.
The high-speed internet will serve Hughes, Huslia, Alatna, and Allakaket Native Village Statistical Areas as well as communities in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.
Breaking down the digital divide
Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski (R) and Dan Sullivan (R) said the lack of high speed internet affects everything from work to services that people in the Lower 48 don’t have to think about, and that expanded broadband would help boost the prosperity of rural Alaska.
“Many of our rural, Alaska Native communities for too long have found themselves without the broadband connectivity that most Americans take for granted,” Sullivan said.
“I’m glad to see the significant federal infrastructure dollars we secured being deployed to break down the digital divide and improve the lives and well-being of thousands of Alaskans across the Interior of Alaska.”
Murkowski said the funding initiatives would make a big difference in everything from entrepreneurship to learning.
“These investments in expanded connectivity will bring new opportunities for education, healthcare, and economic development—truly real-life benefits for Alaskans.”
Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: $123.9 million additional funding announced for high-speed internet in Arctic Quebec, Eye on the Arctic
Norway: New satellites to boost communications in Arctic Norway, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Russian military to get fast, secure internet through trans-Arctic cable, The Independent Barents Observer
United States: Fibre optic network to connect Alaska with rest of United States, Alaska Public Media