Rep. Guttenberg Will Discuss Legislation to Help Build Needed Broadband Infrastructure in Alaska
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 10, 2016
Fairbanks – Representative David Guttenberg (D-Fairbanks) is scheduled to meet with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) officials this month to discuss the challenges Alaska faces with expensive and inferior broadband connectivity, which burdens many communities. Currently, 36.4 percent of all Alaskans and over 80 percent of those in rural Alaska do not have access to broadband internet.
Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of classifying broadband as a utility, rather than a luxury. The FCC has released a new Alaska plan. The plan has been criticized by two FCC Commissioners, for not adequately addressing the shortage of broadband delivery infrastructure in the “middle-mile”, which is the infrastructure between local networks and the networks operated by the major broadband internet providers in Alaska. Building this “middle-mile” infrastructure in a place like Alaska can often be expensive and technically challenging due to factors like geography and small populations. In a dissenting statement, one FCC Commissioner wrote that the Alaska plan would force thousands of rural residents to wait years for recommended broadband internet speeds.
During his visit to Washington D.C. to meet with FCC officials, Rep. Guttenberg will discuss legislation he is sponsoring to build out the missing gaps in the middle-mile infrastructure in Alaska by leveraging federal universal service fees.
“Alaska has some of the worst connectivity rates in the world. My idea is to close the middle-mile gap and allow companies to compete based on their services, rather than profiting from a monopoly,” said Rep. Guttenberg. “Without addressing this problem we are at risk of falling further behind in our connectivity as the national standards rise. However, the state does have the ability to take proactive measures to ensure that all Alaskans have access to good, affordable broadband internet.”
Rep. Guttenberg is seeking public input on the issue of increased broadband access in Alaska through an online survey.
For more information, contact Rep. Guttenberg’s office at (907) 456-8172.