Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

20 Without a broadband connection, especially in remote areas, physical separation created a void of social development that could not be filled with virtual interaction. Therefore, the internet plays an essential engagement role in a world that increasingly is transitioning to online transactions. Education is an important part of Alaska’s future. A strong school system serves as an incentive to Americans moving to Alaska and helps retain residents who might otherwise leave. However, in 2019, Alaska ranked in the bottom 15% of states across reading and mathematics scores for grades four and eight (Institute of Education Sciences, 2019). When students transitioned to remote learning during COVID-19, the quality of education dropped even lower. Because many students were unable to access a reliable and strong internet connection, they were shipped school materials, like problems and books, for work at home. These students were forced to learn on their own, with few resources at their disposal. The internet was not available for help, and teachers were far away and accessible only by handheld, high-frequency radios, the communication norm before the internet’s existence, resulting in a significantly worse schooling experience (Kaden & Martin, 2020). This situation emphasizes the value of the internet in education. With no strong internet connection, students of all ages lose access to a vast ocean of information and the ability to learn online, which may be the only avenue for rural villages and scenarios when schools are closed, like during a pandemic. The economic benefits of the internet contribute at both local and regional levels. In fact, a study conducted across the regions of Russia, with similar geography, climate, and population density to Alaska’s, demonstrates broadband internet has a positive impact on the economic production of the region. It was shown that an increase of 10% in broadband connections could increase gross domestic product by 0.9% to 1.5% (Imasheva & Kramin, 2020). However, Russia is not the only place where internet has proved to have a positive impact on economic growth. In rural households in China, which have similarities with rural villages in Alaska, the internet has had a positive and statistically significant increase in household income and expenditures. It was shown to be especially effective in farm-owning households, with the internet providing detailed information on improved management and farming methods. For example, median income farm households saw internet use increase their earnings by 25.4% (Ma et al., 2020). A similar effect has potential for Alaskan rural villages, with new exposure to fishing techniques and other technological advancements that may benefit the community. Overall, the benefit of internet access across the state of Alaska holds great value. When combined, the educational, social, and economic developments afforded by internet connectivity are key to the future success of Alaska. Broadband Technology To understand the internet problem in Alaska, it is necessary to understand the available technology that is being used. Currently, internet infrastructure consists of fiber-optic cables, microwave towers, orbital satellites, cellular broadband, and other less commonly used hardware. Each of these technologies provides different bandwidth speeds at varying costs, with other advantages and disadvantages as well. The goal in Alaska is to utilize all these technologies in some form to create the most cost effective and lowest response time, or latency, network possible. The fastest speeds might not always be necessary throughout all locations. Minimum bandwidth for common household internet tasks, like surfing the Web and streaming video, requires download speeds between 5 and 10 megabits per second (Mbps). However, download speeds are not the only metric. Video calls, which are becoming more common, require at least 5-Mbps upload speeds (US Federal Communications Commission [FCC], 2020a). With more devices concurrently connected to the internet in a household, the minimum required bandwidth to adequately serve these devices likewise increases. Therefore, to provide satisfactory service to all users per household, the target speeds should be 25–50 Mbps download and 12–25 Mbps upload (US FCC, 2020b). With these speeds, normal internet usage across multiple devices should be supported without a network bottleneck. Fiber-optic cables are very thin glass or