“I have a feeling they’ll pick the heating fuel over broadband as a basic matter of survival,” says Bill Popp, head of Alaska’s broadband task force.
Popp was glad to hear that the FCC chairman supports expanding the Universal Service Fund to include broadband subsidies for consumers. Phone companies are required to contribute to the fund -- and in many cases they make their payments by adding a surcharge to their customers’ bills. Some of the fund is used to subsidize rural telephone service.
“Broadband is going to be a key element of our future growth for resource extractive industries,” says Popp. “That’s everything from mining, to oil and gas, to even fishing.”
Popp says Alaska will be able to develop its resources faster if internet access is available in remote communities.
“These resource extraction industries are highly technical in nature. When you look at oil and gas and mining, it requires an immense amount of data moving back and forth between the mine site -- or the drilling pad and the headquarters of the facility,” said Popp.