OPINION: Broadband partnerships will power progress in rural Alaska

In rural Alaska, where the wilderness stretches as far as the eye can see, connectivity isn’t just a luxury — it’s a lifeline. Access to high-speed internet can mean the difference between isolation and opportunity. It opens doors to education, health care, economic development, and cultural exchange, leveling the playing field for all.

Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at the Alaska Federation of Natives’ (AFN) Alaska Day in Washington, D.C., where I emphasized the need for partnerships to power progress in Alaska.

A common theme emerged: With collaborative effort, when shared challenges arise, so do shared prospects for growth and success. In other words, where there is mutual hardship, we can find mutual opportunity.

At Quintillion, we are guided by four pillars that shape every aspect of our work: building efficiently and economically; operating and maintaining a sustainable asset; providing affordable service to all; and ensuring scalability for future generations. These pillars aren’t just lofty ideals, but the cornerstones of our commitment to Alaska and its people.

The robustness and resilience of our network are paramount and realized through investing in projects like the Nome to Homer Express. This project, which is funded by the U.S. government and Quintillion, will expand broadband access, improve network reliability, and ensure service continuity by closing the digital divide with a diverse fiber ring.

Once complete, this infrastructure initiative will connect Emmonak, Naknek, King Salmon, Igiugig and Homer, enabling service providers to extend and improve broadband services to these underserved areas.

Quintillion is also leading efforts to secure federal grants to bring service to unserved areas like Mountain Village and St. Lawrence Island, working hand in hand with local communities to identify and address their unique needs.


But bringing new high-speed internet access to rural Alaska communities is only one part of the equation. Alaskans also need a network that can withstand the brutal realities Mother Nature is sure to deliver.

That’s why Quintillion and other stakeholders are mobilizing to seek a Federal Emergency Management Agency Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (FEMA BRIC) grant to build backup infrastructure and ensure the reliability of our network.

Earlier this year, we were proud to announce a partnership with the Iñupiat Community of the Arctic Slope to apply for this $30 million grant that would help fund the installation of an overland fiber-optic cable, creating a redundant and resilient route between Oliktok Point and Utqiaġvik.

Investing in enhanced communications infrastructure strategically in Alaska is also critical for U.S. national security. Greater connectivity and resiliency will allow the U.S. to effectively compete with other Arctic nations and safeguard its interests.

U.S. leaders — including our own Alaska Congressional Delegation — know well that our near-peer competitors, Russia and China, are attempting to monopolize this region of the world by gaining advantages over strategic defense postures, natural resources, and commercial shipping routes. If the U.S. is to advance a sustainable Arctic strategy, broadband is the foundational infrastructure.

As we look to the future, we see endless possibilities for partnership and collaboration to bring high-speed internet to every corner of the state, unlocking new opportunities for prosperity, growth, and security along the way. We are grateful for the opportunity to address AFN and its stakeholders last week, and especially to Julie Kitka, Nicole Borromeo, Ben Mallott, Ana Hoffman and Joe Nelson. Our shared mission is simple: to connect Alaska in more ways than one.

By fostering trust, transparency, and honesty, we’re building more than just a network. We’re working together, and partnering with Alaskans, for a brighter future for all who call this great state home.

Michael “Mac” McHale is the president of Quintillion, an Alaska-based infrastructure provider of broadband connectivity, satellite ground station and edge processing services in the U.S. Arctic and Alaska.

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