Thursday, January 13, 2011
According to a recent report from the Homer News, telecom company General Communications has reached an agreement with Marsh Creek construction, which will install a fiber optic cable network and a number of mountain top towers to bring broadband internet to rural Alaska.
The report said fiber optic cable would bring broadband internet to residents living in towns from Anchorage to Levelock. The two cities are separated by 279 miles that will be traversed by the network of fiber optic cables. To extend the network even further, the company will build microwave signal towers that could provide services from Levelock to Emmonack, which is 361 miles to the northwest. By the time the network is completed, at least 65 communities will gain access to broadband internet services.
Krag Johnsen, director of rural broadband development with General Communications, told the Homer News they chose Marsh Creek construction because the company has shown an affinity for developing rural broadband projects in Alaska. He said the company's knowledge and experience was critical to the successful completion of the project because Marsh Creek has an intimate understanding of the regional economy and has gained a reputation for finishing projects on time and within budget. Currently, the project is supported heavily by funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the Homer News said the construction needs to be completed before 2013 to meet the USDA's requirements.
Construction has not yet begun on the project, because General Communications and Marsh Creek need to obtain official permission from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the state of Alaska, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a number of other federal agencies to build the mountaintop towers, the report said. Johnsen told the news source permits for the fiber optic cable stage of construction should be obtained before the end of January.
Installing fiber optic cable networks in rural regions is becoming a popular practice to improve economic conditions by luring companies away from the cities. Since businesses require broadband internet, many have avoided rural areas in recent years because of inferior services. By building new networks, many rural areas expect to improve the economy. According to a recent report from the Lake County News-Chronicle, the Lake County board of commissioners could be close to completing negotiations to build the economy by constructing a new fiber optic network.