Alaska Communications said it plans to follow last year’s investment of $65 million with $40 million in 2024 in an effort to bring broadband to residents and businesses in the state.
While some other broadband providers use fiber broadband for any new deployments, Alaska Communications uses a mixture of fiber-fed copper, fixed wireless and fiber broadband — an approach driven by the state’s unique terrain and population density.
During the past two years, the company has deployed fiber to about 10,000 homes in Fairbanks and Anchorage and to a multi-dwelling unit in downtown Juneau.
Since 2017, the company has made high-speed internet service available to more than 25,000 unserved or underserved locations via deployments funded, in part, through the Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) program.
Last year, newly served locations were in Delta Junction, Fairbanks, Nenana, North Pole, Salcha, Nikiski, Anchor Point, Homer, Soldotna and Ninilchik. The sites got service as fast as 50 Mbps.
“Fiber is the gold standard, but we are always focused on deploying the right technologies, like fixed wireless, which can be better suited for certain environments,” Alaska Communications president and CEO Matt McConnell said in a press release.
He noted that the company is planning a fixed wireless pilot in Juneau that would deliver speeds up to 300 Mbps.
A spokesperson for the company explained its deployment strategy in an email to Telecompetitor last February. At the time, about 1,200 homes in Fairbanks and North Pole had access to asymmetrical data rates of 2.5 Gbps over an XGS-PON platforms.
The spokesperson said XGS-PON and DSL were among the tools in the company’s toolbox.
Alaska Communications is participating in the Alaska FiberOptic project in collaboration with the Alaska Native Regional Corporation and Tribal entities along the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers. The goal is to bring fiber to as many as 21 communities for the first time.
Alaska Communications is an affiliate of ATN International Inc., which operates what it describes as “the most diverse undersea fiber optic system connecting Alaska to the contiguous U.S.”