Rural Alaska’s Internet Connectivity “Absolutely Inadequate”
Disparity Between Alaska and the Lower 48 Highlighted
Washington, D.C. – Sen. Lisa Murkowski called national attention today to the lack of Internet infrastructure in rural Alaska in a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing. “Nearly 40% of Alaska’s land area doesn’t have reliable high speed broad band internet,” Murkowski said. “It would be the equivalent area of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and parts of Ohio having an absolutely inadequate access to what everybody else in the country knows and expects. That’s how we operate on a daily basis.”
Senator Murkowski continued making her point about the disparity in connectivity, returning to that geographic size, saying “I can tell you that the people of Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Tennessee and parts of Ohio would not accept the fact that they cannot be part of the communications world of this century.”
Moments later, Senator Murkowski asked Carl Marrs of Kodiak-Kenai Cable Company about the gap between the high speed capabilities of the continental US versus those in many rural Alaskan regions – where they still rely on satellite technology.
“Satellite was a great tool 20 years ago, 50 years ago … but something that should take 5 seconds or it may take 20 minutes – or you may not download it at all because of sunspots or other things,” Marrs began. He spoke of the potential of expanding service via fiberoptics – commonplace in the lower 48 – to give Alaska villages broadband access and streaming video, before admitting “Today they don’t have that. They don’t have video streaming and the kinds of things that everybody else has.”