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Grant Funds Expansion of North Slope Fiber

Nov 7, 2023 | News, Telecom & Tech

Alaska Business

A $25 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture will expand the North Slope fiber network, bringing high-speed internet from the North Slope community of Atqasuk to Nuiqsut.

Ensuring Equal Opportunities

Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative (ASTAC) has been awarded a grant of $25 million to support the expansion of its fiber network from Atqasuk to Nuiqsut. This significant investment will enable ASTAC to bring high-speed internet access to underserved communities in the Arctic region, enhancing connectivity and opportunities for residents and businesses alike.

The grant, provided by the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Broadband ReConnect Program, reflects a shared commitment to bridging the digital divide in rural Alaska. ASTAC is a full-service provider of fiber, broadband, ethernet, internet, wireless, and local and long distance telephone services across the North Slope.

With this funding, ASTAC will be able to extend its fiber network infrastructure, providing reliable and fast internet access to the residents of Nuiqsut, an essential step in empowering rural communities with the tools necessary for educational, economic, and social development.

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ASTAC currently has fiber in place from Utqiaġvik to Atqasuk; this project will extend it to Nuiqsut, which has a population of nearly 500.

“We are immensely grateful to the USDA for their support,” says ASTAC CEO and General Manager Jens Laipenieks. “This grant will make a significant difference in the lives of the people of Nuiqsut, who have long awaited improved connectivity. It aligns perfectly with our mission to connect all the North Slope communities and foster growth through technology.”

The expansion project will include installation of new fiber optic cables, network infrastructure upgrades, and the provision of affordable broadband services to homes and businesses in Nuiqsut. By bringing high-speed internet to the area, residents will have improved access to online education, telehealth services, e-commerce, and more, ultimately contributing to the economic development and quality of life in the region.

“This project is not just about today’s connectivity; it’s about ensuring equal opportunities, access to education and economic participation in the digital age for current and future generations of Alaskans. We are excited to collaborate with the community of Nuiqsut and local partners to make this vision a reality,” Laipenieks says.

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