$35 million grant allocated to TCC for rural broadband internet

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 10:14 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Tanana Chiefs Conference was awarded a $35 million grant from the USDA Rural Development to bring high-speed broadband internet to rural Alaska.

Announced on Wednesday, the grant will be used to install completely fiber-based network in the villages of Venetie, Chalkytsik, and Circle.

This installation is part of the Alaska FiberOptic Project, which plans to connect more than 20 communities in the Yukon and Kuskokwim regions, between Fairbanks and the Bering Sea Coast. Alaska Communications will build, operate, and maintain the network. Alaska Communications sponsors the Alaska FiberOptic Project along with Calista Corporatio, Doy-on, Limited, Gana-A ‘Yoo Limited, and Tanana Chiefs Conference.

The five companies aim to bridge the digital divide that “perpetuates disparities in education, healthcare, economic opportunities and social well-being” in rural communities.

USDA representative Farah Ahmad referred to high-speed internet as “the new electricity,” and said “it’s going to have ripple effects; access to healthcare, access to learning, access to markets, other businesses, other career opportunities.”

Tanana Chiefs Conference Vice President Sharon Hildebrand added “the grant will undoubtedly have a transformative impact on the lives of the residents and those communities of Venetie, Chalkytsik and Circle.”