Fairbanks State Representative David Guttenberg has a plan for improving internet service in rural areas of the state. Guttenberg said a bill he’s sponsoring would create a state corporation to contract with service providers to build infrastructure that’s too costly for individual companies to invest in.
”Put out a job that we need this many towers in these locations to fill the gap. We need this much fiber optics,” Guttenburg said. “The state owns that, and it just sells that at-cost so it’s not expensive. Right now one of the companies wants to bring up broadband. It’s very expensive to run the line or download broadband from some place. This would lower those costs.”
Guttenberg said the plan targets so called “middle mile infrastructure” that connects internet service providers with local networks. His plan calls for tapping existing federal universal service fee revenue to pay for the work.
”Take money that’s already there,” Guttenburg said. “I’m not raising taxes. I’m not collecting new taxes. But use some of this universal service fund that’s already on everybody’s bill, and target it to the problems instead of continuing paying the subsidy to the industry.”
Guttenberg said he’s travelling to Washington DC this week to meet with Federal Communications Commission officials to discuss the legislation, and determine if it can dovetail into an FCC plan to address broadband issues in Alaska. The plan released August 31st said it builds on an Alaska Telephone Association proposal to provide carriers with the option of receiving fixed amounts of support over the next ten years to deploy and maintain networks.