Broadband will open a host of opportunities for work, health and education in Yakutat, tribe says

Yakutat is a coastal community of about 600 people on the Gulf of Alaska’s northern coast. (Photo by Emily Kwong/KCAW) Slow internet and spotty cell phone service are common problems for small communities throughout Alaska, and Yakutat is no exception. The lack of connectivity has made it harder for the town to attract businesses, invest in telemedicine, and develop distance education services. Now, thanks to a federal grant, the whole town is getting an upgrade.

The project is called NICEY — that’s an acronym for New Internet Communications for Everyone in Yakutat. The goal is to do just that — connect the town to better internet and cell phone service.

To fund the project, the Cordova Telecom Cooperative secured an $18.9 million grant from the US Department of Agriculture through the Broadband ReConnect Program, which aims to boost connectivity in rural parts of the country.

Cordova Telecom is one of 15 applicants around the country awarded the funding.

Jerry Ward, the USDA Rural Development Director for Alaska, says the state is in a great position to benefit from ReConnect, precisely because so many communities are stuck with outdated communication infrastructure.

“Alaska actually ranked higher than any of the other states in this particular project, because we have so many communities that don’t have adequate broadband, they don’t even have broadband,” Ward said.

Cordova Telecom will construct a series of towers along 230 miles of remote coastline, relaying broadband service through the air between Yakutat and the submarine fiber optics cable in Cordova.The overall cost of […]

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