Terra Southwest project speeds YK internet

YKHC's Technology Department monitors network equipment & bandwidth while President and CEO Gene Peltola speaks with Gov. Sean Parnell via hi-speed video teleconference.
YKHC's Technology Department monitors network equipment & bandwidth while President and CEO Gene Peltola speaks with Gov. Sean Parnell via hi-speed video teleconference. — Photo by Rhonda Vanover

YKHC and Gov. Parnell video conference on first day of Terra Southwest operations

UUI/GCI, utilizing a combination of private funding and a government grant from the USDA Rural Utilities Service, activated the Terra Southwest telecommunications project on January 12, 2012. The $88 million project connecting the YK Delta’s Internet services through a combination of microwave and sub-sea fiber optics, will eliminate the region’s reliance on satellites for connectivity to Anchorage, the rest of Alaska, and the lower 48.

Gene Peltola, President/CEO for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation, said during a video call with Alaska Governor Sean Parnell and representatives of GCI and the USDA, “It’s opening up a new era of telecommunications in rural Alaska.” Mr. Peltola cited improvements in rural health, education, and business development along with the potential advancement of small business within the YK Delta as beneficiaries of this new service. Governor Parnell agreed with Mr. Peltola’s assessment and proceeded to thank GCI, the USDA, and YKHC for their leadership and involvement in this project.

YKHC’s Technology Department will be working closely with GCI officials to test the new system over the next several weeks. The results of these tests will be used by GCI to adjust system parameters and assure reliability before additional customers are transitioned from existing satellite connections.

The necessity for communications between Western Alaska and the rest of the world to travel through  thousands of miles of space to a satellite and back has kept internet connectivity slow for this region. The Terra Southwest project brings the connects down to Earth and is expected to greatly boost internet use in the YK Delta.

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