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Alaska company launches new effort to expand internet service around the state

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 9:07 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Pacific Dataport hopes to reach new heights to improve internet service across Alaska. The Anchorage company will see the launch of its Aurora 4A satellite from Cape Canaveral, Florida in the spring of 2022.

“It’s going to bring, really, a generational change to rural Alaskans that will be able to connect to the internet for the first time,” said Pacific DataPort Marketing Director Alexander Schumann. “And we’ll also provide competition in areas that are underserved, or may only have one option.”

The new satellite that will be parked in an orbit about 23,000 miles above the equator. Unlike other communications satellites, Schumann said the one being launched will not have to compete for space on other satellites in order to provide broadband service.

But the company needed help to get the satellite built. Pacific Dataport partnered with California-based company Astranis in 2019. Pacific Dataport is the internet provider while Astranis is the satellite manufacturer.

“They wanted to be first to deploy a dedicated satellite over a very underserved part of the globe,” said Astranis Co-Founder and CEO John Gedmark. “And we were absolutely happy to work with them on that.”

Gedmark said Aurora 4A is the first commercial satellite for Astranis. Part of the reason for building the new satellite, according to Gedmark, is current communications satellites are designed for the Lower 48.

“That means that Alaskans are really just getting, unfortunately, up until now, have just been getting a little bit of the capacity just sort of the edges of their coverage,” Gedmark said.

That changes in the spring, as the Aurora 4A is expected to connect all of Alaska to the world.

The new service is expected to go online within a month after the satellite reaches orbit. Pacific Dataport is also moving ahead with a second satellite, but there is no word on when that launch could take place.

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