Several companies provide local telephone service to Southwest Alaska, and many local or long distance companies offer cellular services. As more bundled telecommunications services are offered, Alaskan households and businesses can choose from packages offering Internet, cellular service, special features and long distance plans that help bring down prices. The availability of wireless service coninues to grow in rural Alaska. However, in some areas, geographical barriers limit its use. In some cases, it does not work at all.
Affordable bandwith remains the greatest impediment to Internet service in rural areas. Local telephone providers report that the high cost and limited availability of satellite space results in charges that often exceed what potential customers could or would be willing to pay for Internet access. The telecommunications industry has been called upon to seek a solution and expand telecommunications and information services, including high-speed broadband Internet accesss, to rural communities.
Remote and rural regions of Alaska receive all communication (including phone, television, and Internet) over high-cost and high-latency satellite connections. In these remote areas, the lack of dependable high-speed connectivity limits the services and applications for hospitals, local health clinics, schools, and businesses. Residents in satellite-served regions of Alaska are unable to participate in today’s knowledge-based economy, or access global information resources, due to a lack of affordable and capable Internet access.