In 2005, GVEA formed what became a subsidiary AlasConnect to develop internet and data services for the Fairbanks area. While providing wireless internet, the main focus became the data center and expanding fiber connections to businesses within the center of Fairbanks. In 2016, the enterprise was sold to Matanuska Telephone Association, a for-profit cooperative. The wireless internet is not a priority for them and they expressed the intent to not only not expand it, but to let it age out and go away.
Many areas outside the core of Fairbanks are served by several investor owned communication companies: ACS, GCI, Hughes.net/Microcom, AceTekk. Where GCI now serves can provide industry standard speeds, but has no impetus to expand without federal funds and don’t seem interested. ACS is very limited in most areas. Last year, ACS received
a federally funded project to install fixed wireless towers in some areas in the next 9 years, capable of at least 10 Mbps, the standard of several years ago.
GVEA is not in a position to re-engage fully on developing broadband throughout Fairbanks until March 2021 as a result of a non-compete clause with the sale of AlasConnect as well as having way too many other projects on the plate.
I have suggested to the GVEA Board that we could at least facilitate a feasibility study to deploy fiber throughout the Fairbanks area in conjunction with other large stakeholders like the FNSB, Doyon, TCC, FMH and others whose employees would benefit from functional internet. GVEA’s board and management will be discussing this at their strategic planning session in early June 2018. A feasibility study could provide some solid information that some entity might be willing to take on to develop a business plan, such as a cooperative without the profit motive of the investor owned providers.
For more information on the current status of broadband in Fairbanks, see this page.