$30.3 million grant announced to expand high-speed internet in rural Alaska – Eye on the Arctic

Funding for the grant will come from USDA’s ReConnect program. The initiative offers both loans and grants to facilitate better broadband service in rural areas. (Stock)

The nonprofit Native society responsible for health and social services for much of interior Alaska will receive US$30.3 million to help develop high-speed internet in the region.

Nobody at tThe Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) could be reached for comment on Monday, but in a Friday press release, the TCC chief said the grant was a milestone 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,” said Chief/Chair Brian Ridley.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski, R-AK, speaks during a committee hearing on the World Energy Outlook at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on February 28, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
“These investments in expanded connectivity will bring new opportunities for education, health care and economic development – ​​real, tangible benefits for Alaskans,” said Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski (file photo from February 2019). (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

“This network is a key part of TCC’s ongoing strategy to bridge the digital divide for our tribal members and improve the standard of living for our people.”

Funding for the grant will come from USDA ReConnect Program. The initiative offers both loans and grants to facilitate better broadband service in rural areas.

The grant announced Friday will go towards the construction of a fiber optic network that will serve individuals, businesses and educational institutions.

High-speed Internet will serve the Aboriginal Village Statistical Areas of Hughes, Huslia, Alatna and Allakaket as well as communities in the Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area.

Breaking the digital divide

Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski (R) and Dan Sullivan (R) said the lack of high-speed internet is affecting everything from work to services Lower 48 residents don’t have to think about, and that the Broadband broadband would help boost prosperity in rural Alaska.

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan, a Republican from Alaska, speaks during a broadband summit in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2022. (Mark Thiessen/AP)

“Many of our rural Alaska Native communities have been left without the broadband connectivity that most Americans take for granted for far too long,” Sullivan said.

“I am pleased to see the significant federal infrastructure funds we have secured are being deployed to bridge the digital divide and improve the lives and well-being of thousands of Alaskans across Interior 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, health care and economic development – real, tangible benefits for Alaskans.”

Write to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn(at)cbc.ca

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