Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

21 plastic fibers surrounded by a protective casing. Data are transmitted through these fibers by shining a light at one end and receiving the light at the other. Bandwidth speeds through fiber-optic cables are incredibly fast, nearly the speed of light, and can exceed speeds of 1 gigabit per second for both upload and download (Christiansen, 2021). The cables themselves are small, lightweight, and secure—no one can see the messages along the cable without being detected. In addition, they are immune to electromagnetic interference and have low signal degradation. Although fiber-optic cables seem like a great option, there are some disadvantages. Fiber-optic cables are fragile, due to the glass or plastic running through them. If this fiber breaks, the entire cable becomes unusable. In addition, fiber-optic cables are expensive in comparison to other solutions, which is the greatest barrier to their widespread use, and Alaskan geographic conditions only exacerbate this problem. Terrestrial microwave transmission towers, or microwave towers for short, are straightforward. These devices are simply tall towers with satellite dishes that are 30 to 50 miles apart. Each of these satellite dishes points directly to another satellite dish on another tower. Between these two dishes, information is transferred via microwaves, ranging from 1 to 150 gigahertz, with internet speeds up to 50-Mbps upload or download (Cooper, 2020). Some advantages of microwave towers include being cheaper than cables, not needing land ownership, and capability of functioning over challenging terrain. These traits have made microwave towers popular in Alaska. There are also some disadvantages, including interference from weather conditions and requiring a direct line of sight between two towers. Unfortunately, this means that while it is raining, snowing, or extra foggy, there is likely to be a reduction in internet speeds when using terrestrial microwave transmissions. Orbital satellites provide internet from space by relaying a connection through a network operations center on the ground. This means that in order to access the internet, information travels from a device, up to the satellite, down to the network operations center, and back up to the satellite and finally returns to the device. Therefore, the distance these signals need to travel significantly affects latency, leading to an important distinction between geosynchronous earth orbit (GEO) and low earth orbit (LEO) satellites. GEO satellites orbit the earth at 22,236 miles. This specific distance allows these satellites to rotate at the same speed as the earth, always hovering over the same geographical location on earth’s surface. These satellites offer a 25-Mbps download and a 3-Mbps upload to a specific geographic area, regardless of how remote it is, making GEO satellites the only option for many rural Alaskan communities (Rachfal, 2021). Unfortunately, this technology comes with a cost. Due to distance traveled, GEO satellite internet has high latency and can be significantly affected by adverse weather conditions and, because of high initial deployment costs, is expensive for the consumer. However, LEO satellites have some unique properties that help minimize these disadvantages. LEO satellites orbit the earth anywhere from 300 to 1200 miles above the surface. Because these satellites are closer than GEO satellites, they move much faster than the earth is rotating. This means that LEO satellites are constantly traveling faster than the earth’s surface, so a constellation, or large group of satellites, is required to make sure any given area always has a satellite above it. Unfortunately, LEO constellations require thousands of satellites to cover the earth’s surface, creating a high initial cost to deploy. At the same time, because these satellites are much closer to earth than are GEO satellites, they have significantly lower latency, providing from 100- to 400-Mbps upload and from 20- to 50-Mbps download, making them a faster option than GEO satellites (Rachfal, 2021). The fact that a signal is still traveling through the air means that weather conditions influence connectivity, but with government subsidies and increasing competition in the LEO satellite internet space, LEO satellite-based internet is becoming more and more affordable for the consumer. Cellular broadband works as a wireless network based on cell towers that connect to nearby mobile phones through radio waves. This connection allows the cell towers to relay an internet connection with speeds