Murkowski, Sullivan Applaud $88M Grant to Invest in Broadband Infrastructure for Rural Alaska
Today, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan (both R-Alaska) applauded the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announcement of a $88.896 million infrastructure grant for Quintillion to build a multi-year subsea broadband project from Nome to Homer, Alaska. Once constructed and online, the Nome to Homer project will provide redundant middle mile backhaul capability for Alaska, creating redundancy and reliability for Alaska’s broadband network infrastructure that is unprecedented for Alaska.
“This award comes at a critical time for Alaska. I often say that Alaska sets its own terms, and this time period is a perfect example. We now have a situation where the federal government is making an investment that could have prevented the impacts of this widespread outage. The extensive internet outage, caused by significant sea ice scouring, underscores the importance of Arctic infrastructure and redundancy. Most Americans take for granted that internet outages last hours or days, not weeks or months. In Alaska, we are a state with one road to the Arctic, one broadband connection, and one port that is just beginning construction. As such, Alaskans often lack essential services that the rest of the Lower 48 takes for granted, and given Alaska’s strategic location and role in national defense, we require more than just the ability to ‘get by’ when it comes to infrastructure. This grant is a big step towards recognizing Alaska’s unique needs and makes an investment in the future of the state and our national strategic capability. When crafting the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, I focused on including significant support for broadband infrastructure to rural communities. Alaskans deserve reliable access to internet for their telehealth, schooling, emergency services, and so much more—and this significant grant will provide a solution to providing reliable internet connectivity to Alaskans in rural communities in the long term,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “While this grant won’t solve Northwestern Alaska’s current internet outage, it marks an important down payment on a more resilient future for Alaska and is a recognition of Alaska’s unique needs.”
“As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I often hear my colleagues pressing federal officials to prioritize upgrades to existing broadband infrastructure for their constituents. My question to my colleagues and these officials is—what about communities, many of which are in my state, with no infrastructure or connectivity to begin with?” said Sen. Sullivan. “The lack of Internet access in Alaska was a driving force behind my work on the broadband provisions of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I am heartened to see our legislation bearing fruit for tens of thousands of Alaskans on this expansive route between Nome and Homer, unlocking limitless possibilities in terms of telehealth, education and small business opportunities. Importantly, in light of the fiber optic cable severed by sea ice recently, this project will achieve greater resiliency to meet the challenges of Alaska’s rugged and unpredictable terrain and keep Alaskans connected.
Quintillion, a telecommunications service provider, builds fiber optic cables across Alaska. Last week, a fiber cable connecting Northwest Alaska to the internet was damaged, causing either total or partial internet outages for thousands of Alaskans.
The $88.896,493.83 grant to Quintillion will extend the existing network and completes a ring, connecting a previously constructed network. It will also provide connectivity along newly constructed routes.
The grant is through the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program, to expand and extend middle mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting areas that are unserved or underserved to the internet backbone. The program was created and funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. To date, Alaska has received more than $3.9 billion in infrastructure investments thanks to the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.