Alaska Company to Receive $88 M for Broadband Project
Recovery Act Money Assists 65 Communities
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich announced Jan. 25 an Alaska based company will be able to undergo a major expansion of broadband in Southwest Alaska using $88 million combination grant and loan money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). United Utilities, Inc. (UUI), headquartered in Anchorage, will be able to provide 'middle mile' broadband service to 65 communities through a project entitled Terrestrial Broadband in Southwestern Alaska (TERRA-SW).
"Rural Alaskans appreciate the attention that the Recovery Act is giving to their needs," Sen. Begich said. "The second major broadband expansion project provided by the Recovery Act in as many months, this project will improve telemedicine, improve distance learning, create needed jobs and allow Alaska small businesses to grow and expand."
Awarded through a competitive process the project will help communities and businesses provide essential services by being available to:
· 65 communities in the Y-K Delta and Bristol Bay regions
· 9,000 households and 748 businesses
· 2 hospitals and 63 village clinics
· 72 schools
Nationwide, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $309 million to 14 Recovery Act Broadband Infrastructure projects. Last month, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack joined Sen. Begich in announcing a $25 million grant to Rivada Sea Lion, of Hooper Bay, to help expand 'last mile' broadband services in Rural Alaska. The TERRA-SW project focuses on 'middle mile' broadband service by utilizing a mixture of fiber optic cable and microwave network.
UUI has already secured a commitment from parent GCI to purchase middle mile capacity for their existing voice and data traffic. According to the project's application, this commitment alone makes the project financially feasible.
The project is expected to directly create 80 construction jobs.