ASTAC says it is excited to offer high quality Internet service at faster speeds and with
lower latency. Now all of its wireline and 4G
wireless customers in Wainwright, Point
Hope, Nuiqsut, and Utqiaġvik can enjoy the
benefits of the fiber-fed networks. ASTAC
is now migrating customers in all fiber-fed
markets to its faster Home Internet10 service.
Lochner says Quintillion’s fiber only lands at
half of the villages ASTAC serves. “ASTAC
has a goal within the next five years to link all
of the villages together on terrestrial bandwidth,” he says.
Since 2012, ASTAC has invested more
than $33 million in its North Slope network.
Coverage for the Dalton Highway
Telecom coverage is also being enhanced
along the James W. Dalton Highway, often
referred to as the Dalton Highway or Haul
Road. The Dalton Highway used to be considered one of the most isolated stretches of
road in the United States. The 414-mile road
runs from the Elliott Highway north of Fairbanks to the “community” of Deadhorse,
which serves the Prudhoe Bay Oil Fields.
In July, GCI completed a new wireless
tower near Coldfoot and brought the first-
ever wireless service to the Dalton Highway.
Previously, there had been no cell phone ser-
vice along the road, and travelers had to com-
municate by Citizens Band radio or satellite
phone. As many as 250 trucks use the Dalton
Highway each day, and GCI’s wireless cover-
age is a much-needed solution for these and
other travelers who depend on cell phones.
The new tower provides wireless coverage
along 15 miles of the Dalton Highway. “There
was a big gap before,” Klimek says. “This pro-
vides a good amount of coverage.”
The tower—located near mile 175—cost
about $500,000 and took a year to permit,
construct, and integrate into the GCI wire-
less network. GCI is planning other wireless
towers along the road as part of a $30 million
project to expand and upgrade wireless com-
munication throughout the state.
ASTAC is also working to address the
dearth of telecommunications coverage
along the Dalton Highway. The utility, along
with a number of partners, is planning to
build more cell towers along the highway.
The first tower will be placed at the Frank-
lin Bluffs area and will meet the coverage
ASTAC already provides for Deadhorse and
slightly southward. While ASTAC’s new tow-
ers will not cover the entire highway, they
will provide a considerable amount of cover-
age that people did not have before.
The utility is also working on a solution to
address places where Alaskans are completely off the telecom grid and have to rely on satellite phones. It offers Beartooth, an off-the-grid network for smartphones. Beartooth
allows individuals who are not connected
to a wireless or satellite network to use cell
phones to keep in contact off grid up to a
“ASTAC’s designated service area is a roadless,
remote Arctic area between Point Hope and
Kaktovik—more than 90,000 square miles,
which is larger than forty of the fifty states…
Our 4G wireless service reaches as far as seven
miles out to sea.”
Director of Business Development