Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

22 of around 50-Mbps download and 15-Mbps upload (O’Dea, 2021). A major benefit of cellular broadband is its ability to provide internet in a relatively large area with lower initial hardware cost. Unfortunately, with monthly data usage limits in addition to high monthly cost, the low initial hardware costs no longer become worthwhile for rural locations. These statistics, along with the information from other technologies, discussed previously, are summarized in Table 1. Other internet infrastructures worth mentioning include digital subscriber line (DSL), cable modem, and broadband over powerlines. DSL is a technology that takes advantage of the preexisting telephone infrastructure, providing an internet connection over the same telephone wires. Over time, DSL has been phased out due to its slow connection speeds and the popularity of cable modem. Cable modems create an internet connection through the coaxial cables used for television. This internet infrastructure is the most popular and is used across much of the United States. Its major downfall is the high cost of coaxial cables in the face of decreased costs for fiber-optic cables, which also are becoming easier to use. Finally, broadband over powerlines is a technology created specifically for rural areas that have only electricity. It creates a slow connection, just enough to support browsing the internet, through powerlines that are accessed through outlets. Although each of these methods of providing internet is useful in certain scenarios, their applications in Alaska are limited, making them less advantageous than fiber-optic cables, terrestrial microwave transmissions, orbital satellites, and cellular broadband. Current Infrastructure Because each type of infrastructure has its strengths and weaknesses, Alaska has deployed a tiered hybrid system. Major cities are connected directly by fiber-optic cables, while slightly smaller towns are connected through terrestrial microwave transmissions. As a result, anyone living outside the range of terrestrial microwave transmissions must resort to GEO satellites, which are expensive and not fast enough to provide a strong internet connection. At present, the only solution to this expensive alternative is to apply for some relief through the FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit, which provides a discount of up to $50 per month on broadband service that is over $75 a month per household (US FCC, 2022). Many areas in Central and Southwestern Alaska lack fiber-optic cables and microwave tower infrastructure. Fortunately, there have been recent developments to deploy LEO satellites to help reduce costs and increase bandwidth for these rural populations using GEO satellites. In Alaska, these LEO satellites are deployed by two companies, OneWeb and SpaceX’s Starlink. Although these companies have not fully completed their constellations, they are close to reaching a point at which the entirety of Alaska will be within coverage of a LEO satellite broadband connection. Currently, the Starlink constellation has many more satellites than the OneWeb constellation. Table 1 Summary of Current Internet Technologies Technology Download Speed (Mbps) Upload Speed (Mbps) Fiber-optic cables 1000 1000 Microwave towers 50 50 GEO satellites 25 3 LEO satellites 20–50 100–400 Cellular broadband 50 15 Sources: Christiansen, 2021; Cooper, 2020; O’Dea, 2021; Rachfal, 2021. .