Alaska Broadband Summit focuses on federal funding opportunities
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The message of the Alaska Broadband Summit centered around capitalizing on the upcoming federal funding to improve broadband connection across the state.
The summit held on Tuesday at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center was hosted by Sen. Dan Sullivan, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the state, the Alaska Municipal League, and the Alaska Federation of Natives.
The crowd was filled with state, federal, local, and tribal officials along with Alaska telecommunication providers.
“If this is done right if you live in Bethel or you live in Anchorage or if you live in Kotzebue or you live in Fairbanks,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said. “We all will have, hopefully, the same speed, the same capability, and enormous capability.”
Alaska is preparing to receive billions of dollars in federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bipartisan infrastructure bill is funding the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program with $42 billion to be disbursed over all 50 states.
“We must be ready as a state to take advantage of this historical funding,” Sen. Sullivan said.
Throughout the summit, Sen. Murkowski and Sullivan along with Dunleavy urged all stakeholders to work together to secure the funding and not let it go to waste.
“It really is heartening less than a year after enactment of the Infrastructure and Jobs Act we are really poised to make a substantial difference in how we are connecting across the state our broadband connectivity,” Murkowski said.
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson was in Anchorage for the summit along with FCC commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington. Other federal officials were also in attendance to hear about the broadband needs in Alaska.
“We finally have the resources, the tools we need, to meaningful address and close that digital divide,” Davidson said.
At the summit, Davidson announced a $50 million tribal broadband grant from the NTIA for the Alaska One Fiber project between Doyon Limited and Alaska Communications. The project aims to link Fort Yukon, Beaver, Stevens Village, Rampart, and Tanana to high-speed internet.
Dunleavy signed House Bill 363 into law at the summit as well. The bill introduced by Rep. Bryce Edgmon - (I) Dillingham creates a state office of broadband within the Department of Commerce, advancing statewide broadband access.
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