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FCC Awards Rural Alaska $41 Million for Phone, Broadband Expansion

Begich, With Seat on FCC Oversight Committee, Praises Announcement

U.S. Senator Mark Begich welcomed news from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that rural communities will soon have increased internet access and faster service because a major investment of federal funding.

Today’s results from the FCC Tribal Mobility Fund Phase I Auction show Alaska companies will receive the lion’s share of federal funding, $41 million of the $49 million available nationwide, and will use the funds to provide 3G or better mobile voice and broadband services to rural Alaska communities.  This action is part of the FCC’s broader Transformation Order issued in 2011.   

“This is a great day for rural Alaska,” said Begich.  “Today’s FCC auction results mean that Alaska companies will now be able to provide sorely needed telecommunication services across our vast state.  From Eek, to Nunam Iqua, to Unalaska, several rural communities will soon be better connected.”

Begich, as a member of the Senate Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over the FCC, has been an active participant in ensuring that the national plan works for Alaska. The reform sought to modernize the FCC Universal Service program and has been a point of major criticism for Alaska telecommunications providers on several fronts. 

Today’s announcement for targeted universal service support will be used to provide 3G or better mobile voice and broadband services to be delivered through five telecommunications companies nationwide, including Alaska’s GCI and Copper Valley. 

“Senator Begich’s efforts with the FCC have been critical to ensuring that rural Alaskans have access to mobile services that are comparable to those available throughout the country,” said GCI’s General Counsel and SVP of Governmental Affairs, Tina Pidgeon. “The winning GCI bids underscore how many Alaskans are without 3G or greater service today, reflect the significant costs of serving rural Alaska communities, and demonstrate GCI’s commitment to taking the necessary steps to deliver high quality mobile data and voice services statewide.” 

The two companies have five days to notify the tribal governments in each winning community census block about this FCC action.

For more auction details including the locations by state and Tribal lands or Reservations, go to: FCC website

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