Adam Kiffmeyer and Billy Adamson scale a communications tower on Thursday, Jan. 7 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Adam Kiffmeyer and Billy Adamson scale a communications tower on Thursday, Jan. 7 in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Task force to look at statewide broadband access

The task force will consist of 11 voting members and two ex officio members.

Efforts to expand broadband access across Alaska will now be spearheaded by the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s office announced Thursday.

The task force will consist of 11 voting members and two ex officio members. The 11 voting members will include commissioners from the Department of Education and Early Development and the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, as well as representatives from Native and rural organizations, among others.

The two ex officio members will be chosen from the Alaska House of Representatives and the Alaska Senate and will be chosen by the Senate President and the Speaker of the House.

In establishing the task force, Dunleavy said the COVID-19 pandemic “shed light” on the need for reliable and high-speed internet access for people in Alaska, according to the administrative order.

“Closing Alaska’s digital divide is now more important than ever to meet an exponentially growing demand for bandwidth to support basic government and domestic functions, i.e., commerce, innovation, economic development, addressing quality of life issues for Alaskans,” the order says.

The task force will meet at least once a month until the task force sunsets on Nov. 30, 2022. Task force members will not receive any compensation for their work and will be expected to provide a comprehensive report on broadband in Alaska to Dunleavy by Oct. 1, 2021.

Among other things, that report should identify needs and gaps in Alaska’s current network, identify communities most in need of upgraded infrastructure, provide recommendations to fill those gaps, evaluate current broadband technologies and provide program recommendations for the equitable use of state money to develop infrastructure.

Access to broadband has been a major concern in communities across the country throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as people were increasingly made to work from home.

Broadband expansion has been underway for months on the peninsula. The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly dedicated a chunk of their federal CARES Act money to improving access to expand rural internet access on the peninsula. In all, six towers were built in Nikiski, Tyonek, Bear Creek, Nikolaevsk, Ninilchik and Cohoe.

The assembly also recently approved a communications tower for Summit Lake.

More information on the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband can be found on Dunleavy’s website at gov.alaska.gov.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

Most Read