Alaska leaders worry about broadband maps Thumbnail Image

Alaska leaders worry about broadband maps

Alaska is one of America's last frontiers in many ways. Broadband deployment is no exception. 

The vast state of 665,400 square miles is in dire need of better broadband, and it stands to leap ahead if state broadband leaders are able to win the appropriate amount of BEAD grants. The state published this broadband report last year to outline its needs. 

In in addition to Treasury and BEAD grants, the state's 229 tribes are also eligible for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (NTCP.)  

But the needed amount of funding can only come if broadband builders use accurate maps that can tell them where the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act's BEAD grant money should go. 

That's why Alaska's Republican senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to get its much-touted Fabric map right when they publish them this fall. The IIJA directs the NTIA to dispense broadband funding to state applicants according to a formula based on data from that map, which in turn is based on broadband coverage data submitted by internet service providers. 

They reiterated their concerns this week at a broadband summit held in Fairbanks, Alaska this week, according to the trade publication Communications Daily

The publication reports that their statements "followed state officials raising concerns about holes in the FCC’s broadband serviceable location fabric to be used in upcoming maps. 

State, local, tribal and federal officials stressed the need for engagement and collaboration to ensure funding goes where it’s needed."

This Alaska Daily News story quotes the Alaska Federation of Natives' Executive Vice President Nicole Borromeo acknowledging that “there will be a lot of competition for the money nationally.” 

“We want to see every penny we can up in Alaska,” Borromeo said, part of a panel during the summit that discussed tribal opportunities. “It’s a bit of a David and Goliath story. The only way we get to be Goliath is by working together.”

But the state currently seems to rely on that FCC data to map its broadband needs. 

State, local and tribal officials, and local ISPs could all work together to figure out the real amounts that the state and tribal territories are due from the NTIA by using's broadband performance maps and forthcoming community broadband performance test toolkit

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