Super fast Internet for all Alaskans - by 2020?

State task force outlines what it would take

The Alaska Broadband Task Force released a report Wednesday calling for all Alaskan households to have access to 100 Mbps broadband by 2020. Just to give some perspective, that’s about five times faster than the fastest Internet currently offered in Alaska.

The task force offers a detailed plan that would bring fiberoptic access to most Alaskans, and microwave access to those in communities with fewer than 300 people.

The report says that a 1 percent increase in broadband adoption would add $67.7 million to Alaska’s economy. The report says distance education, telemedicine and emergency response systems would greatly improve and that better opportunities for technology-driven businesses would be created as a result of increased broadband availability.

About $1.2 billion would be needed to bring high speed fiber access to 80,000 people and high speed microwave access to 20,000 people. The task force expects much of this money would come from the private sector, but that subsidies will continue to play a major role in funding broadband projects for some communities. The report said that “telecommunications infrastructure should be an important part of major construction projects.”

As for how much it might cost the public sector, the task force suggests that the state create grant and loan programs. The state could also create a program similar to the Percent for Art fund that would take a small percentage of public construction funds and collect it for broadband infrastructure projects.

Contact reporter Jennifer Canfield at 523-2279 or at jennifer.n.canfield@juneauempire.com.

http://www.alaska.edu/files/oit/bbtaskforce/2013-08-AK-Broadband-Task-Fo...

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