Perspectives on Business and Economics, Vol. 40

24 private telecommunications companies have started projects in Alaska and are working to build new infrastructure across the state. State and Federal Funding With cost the largest obstacle to the development of internet infrastructure across Alaska, government subsidies and grants are a vital part of the process. Although the state government provides some subsidies, Alaska also looks to the federal government for grants and other sources of funding. For example, the state received a $46M grant from the Department of Agriculture in late 2020 to fund broadband development for education (Murkowski, 2020). Such federal grants fund internet infrastructure projects across the state. With President Biden’s $1.2T Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Alaska’s internet problem received national attention. As a part of the bill, Alaska received over $1.5B for broadband development, which is 2.3% of the total allocated funds for that purpose (Crouse, 2021; Reynolds, 2021). Such a large amount of federal funding will have a major impact on the future of internet infrastructure in Alaska. With broadband projects planned and the state ready to act, this federal funding will go a long way toward solving the internet problem in Alaska. Broadband Task Force The COVID-19 pandemic, raising awareness surrounding the digital divide, sparked Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy to create a Broadband Task Force. The goal of this task force was to provide recommendations on the best methods to provide high-speed and reliable internet to all Alaskans. Focusing on both broadband technology and public policy, the task force determined the most effective ways to improve internet connectivity in Alaska. The recommendations of the task force fell into three timelines: short-, intermediate-, and long-term goals. Short-term goals focused on gathering information. This included establishing benchmark internet speeds and costs, identifying project economic and capital needs, identifying available funding, and authorizing the creation of a state Office of Broadband Deployment. These objectives are focused on establishing the necessary foundation required in order to efficiently roll out the later goals. Intermediate goals are where the project plans are determined. Many of the goals entail targeting deployment strategies, evaluating the capacity of the workforce, and establishing project partners. In addition, potential legislation, if necessary, would be drafted during this stage, with the hope of streamlining the internet infrastructure development process. Almost all parts of the intermediate goals rely on the information gathered in the short term, making it difficult to begin working on these objectives until the short-term goals are complete. Finally, the long-term goals are split into two parts. The first part focuses on reporting and evaluation. These include reporting on broadband equity across communities, evaluating redundancy and resiliency of any established networks, and determining if state efforts are meeting the principles and values set by the task force. In general, this section of the long-term goals ensures that the original intentions and objectives set by the task force are being met. The second part aims at creating a framework for continual growth and development. Annual data collection, specifically on resident needs, internet coverage, and cost, provides insight on trends over time and provides a framework for future success. With the Broadband Task Force disbanded, progress will be measured by the Office of Broadband Deployment, which was established as a part of the short-term goals. Although the creation and work completed by the Broadband Task Force did not take any direct action to improve internet infrastructure, it resulted in a clear set of goals and objectives for internet development in Alaska. The plans and research conducted will make it significantly easier for these improvements to take place when funding is acquired, either from the state or federal government. Overall, for Alaska to grow in this technological age, it must create a stronger internet infrastructure, including making internet more affordable, increasing speeds, and reducing latency (State of Alaska, 2021). Private Projects One of the state’s major telecommunication companies, Alaska Communications,