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109 Microwave Towers Bring the Internet to Remote Alaska Villages

Accepted submission by Phoenix666 at 2017-12-05 16:13:36

Now Alaska can stream Netflix and cook dinner at the same time []:

Here on the edge of the U.S. Arctic, Internet connectivity is a slow—and expensive—proposition. Eighty-one percent [] [PDF] of rural residents in Alaska do not have broadband Internet [], defined by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as providing a minimum download speed of 25 megabits per second. People in Kotzebue have long relied on satellite connections for Internet service at speeds comparable to those of dial-up. At the beginning of the year, their average download speed [] was just 2 Mb/s.

The Igichuk tower is one of the final pieces of one of the most ambitious telecommunications projects in the rural United States. Built by General Communication Inc. [] (GCI) and known as TERRA, it was completed this past October, after US $300 million of investment and six years of construction, when engineers installed its final microwave repeater. The network uses a combination of repeater data links and fiber optics to form a giant, 5,000-⁠kilometer ring around southwest Alaska—a sparsely populated region with few paved roads and wilderness areas larger than West Virginia.

With TERRA, Kotzebue residents now pay $59.99 per month for an Internet plan with download speeds of 3 Mb/s, which is not even fast enough [] to stream a high-definition movie. To be able to do that, they would need to pay at least $149.99 per month for 6 Mb/s. Compare that with New York City, where residents pay an average of $55 per month for 25 Mb/s.

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