Alaska to receive $100 million in additional funding for rural broadband projects
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski(R-Alaska) today announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding $100 million to improve high-speed internet access in communities across Alaska. These awards are possible thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)—and specifically through the latest round of the USDA’s ReConnect Program, which aims to ensure high-speed internet to every community in the United States.
To date, USDA’s ReConnect Program has awarded $379.35 million in infrastructure funds to Alaska—including a $116 million announcement in July 2022, $63 million announcement in September 2022, and $100.5 million announcement in June 2023. In addition to the $1 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program announcement in June 2023, Alaska has received over $1.3 billion for broadband made possible by the bipartisan infrastructure law.
The funding is being delivered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s ReConnect program to three Alaskan projects:
- $29.9 million for Bush-Tell Inc. for fiber connections to 697 people, 38 businesses and seven educational facilities in the Bethel and Yukon-Kuskokwim census areas;
- $35 million for Unicom Inc. for fiber connections to 1,472 people, 22 businesses and two educational facilities in the Bethel and Kusilvak census areas; and
- $34.9 million for Cordova Telephone Cooperative Inc. for fiber and wireless internet for 28 people, eight businesses and one educational facility in the Hoonah-Angoon Census Area.
“Alaska is set to receive transformative infrastructure investments that are working to ensure all communities in our state have access to high-speed internet—and with today’s announcement, we know we’re one step closer in our work to connect all Alaskans. After hearing the calls from Alaskans, strengthening rural infrastructure and broadband access was a priority of mine when crafting the bipartisan infrastructure law. Through our work the ReConnect and BEAD programs, Alaskans in rural communities will have better access to telehealth services, education opportunities, the ability to connect with family and friends, and so much more,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski.
“Gaining access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet—an amenity most Americans take for granted—has been a top priority for Alaska’s rural communities for years. It has also been a top priority for me, and a driving force behind my work on the broadband provisions of the bipartisan infrastructure bill,” said Sen. Sullivan. “Today, we are witnessing this goal come to fruition for thousands of Alaskans across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region and many Alaskans in Southeast. This new broadband infrastructure—the latest grant awards following billions of dollars’ worth of projects already announced—will unlock limitless possibilities in terms of telehealth, education and small business opportunities. I look forward to ground being broken on these projects to improve the lives and well-being Alaskans as we continue on our mission to wire and connect every community and village in our state.”
“Alaska has lagged behind the rest of the country in broadband Internet access for too long,” said Representative Peltola. “Access to the Internet is now essential for everyday life. Even checking on hunting and fishing season opening dates/times for subsistence harvests now often requires visiting a website for the most up to date information. Our rural Alaskan communities deserve the same level of access to government services, healthcare, education, and commerce as the rest of the state, and I am proud of the work that our bipartisan delegation has done to secure this record amount of funding—now nearly $2 billion in total—and the listening that the Administration done to understand our unique needs.”