USDA awards grant for Rural School Broadband

BETHEL – Today (October 13th, 2020), the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Utility Service Program announced they are awarding a $25 million grant to GCI to build fiber optic broadband through the Aleutian chain to Unalaska.

“This is a critical piece of infrastructure to our region that will bridge Alaska’s digital divide,” said Senate Majority Leader Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel. “Soon, more rural Alaskans will have high speed, affordable broadband in our homes and businesses in communities along the chain.”

The Legislature this year passed Senate Bill 74, legislation sponsored by Sen. Hoffman that increased the minimum internet speed at schools statewide from 10 to 25 megabits per second.

This new law benefits Alaska students across the state by bridging the digital divide between urban and rural school districts, providing better access to information available in today’s world. Passage of SB 74 was an important step in making this project possible.

“I want to thank the USDA, Alaska’s Congressional Delegation – led on this issue by Senator Sullivan – and GCI for their efforts to bring better connectivity out to the Aleutian chain,” Sen. Hoffman said. “This infrastructure expansion is critically important, especially with many students receiving an education online at home due to COVID.”

SB 74 was signed into law by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on March 25.