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Blog // Connect Alaska

Connected Nation Supports Alaska in its Concerns over Current USF Reform

By CAK Staff

The following letter was sent to Senator Begich and the members of the Alaska delegation on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.

 
Dear Senator Begich:
 
Tomorrow, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will propose revisions to its universal service fund (USF) and inter-carrier compensation policies in an effort to bring affordable broadband to all Americans. Connected Nation has monitored communications regarding USF reform over the past few months, and is aware of recent communications to the FCC from Alaska Governor Sean Parnell expressing the state’s deep concerns with USF reforms proposed. As President and CEO of Connected Nation, I am writing to affirm the special needs of the state of Alaska as the USF is reformed.
 
Connected Nation through its subsidiary office, Connect Alaska, has been working to map Alaska’s broadband infrastructure as well as to educate Alaskans about the importance of broadband adoption. Through this process, we have traveled extensively throughout rural Alaska and we have seen first-hand the unique challenges faced by many rural communities that make the costs for delivering rural telecommunications and broadband services some of the highest in the nation. Our data indicate that broadband availability ranges from approximately 90 percent of households served by broadband of at least 768 Kbps download to approximately 75 percent of households served by broadband of at least 6 Mbps download. Regardless of speed tier, broadband is available to only 1.54 percent of Alaska’s geographic landmass.
 
Connected Nation and Connect Alaska have recognized from the outset of our work in Alaska that USF reform, to be good for Alaska, must include provisions that take the state’s unique landscape (geographic, economic, and its infrastructure) into account, and we have communicated that point-of-view in every applicable general and state-specific conversation. I also believe we have sensed that this message has been broadly well-received.
 
The National Broadband Plan is extensive and far reaching. The 22 existing broadband providers in Alaska working with Connect Alaska to map Alaska’s broadband infrastructure (100 percent of the state’s broadband provider community), tell us that the existing system offered under USF has done so much to bring broadband into rural communities and must not be underestimated. As we have seen most recently in Southwest Alaska, the state’s telecommunications providers are investing millions of dollars in private capital to bring broadband to communities that would otherwise go unserved.
 
Understanding that we are at the eleventh hour of the proposed rulemaking by the FCC, Connected Nation/Connect Alaska wants to add its voice in support and recognition of Alaska’s unique challenges and in support of a realistic, long-term solution to the state’s telecommunication needs so that services can expand, and economic development by way of jobs and commerce can take place.
 
Please feel free to communicate our perspective to the FCC, and Connected Nation looks forward to being a part of Alaska’s robust broadband future.
 
Sincerely,
 
Brian R. Mefford
Chairman & CEO
Connected Nation, Inc.


Tags:  FCC  

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