Dave Totten's personal voyage to the land of IT Fluency, and other Digital Governance issues.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tooksook Bay

The Yupik village of Tooksook Bay is going broadband!

They were actually one of the first Alaska Native villages to get online (there's a Washington Post article about them somewhere, from 1995.) They've been very creative about trying to use this new resource to boost their economy.

The village sits on the Yukon River. Their main economy is subsistance-based: chum salmon from the river for making jerkey and dogfood, moose and carribou during the appropriate seasons for meat. But the Internet has given them a new market for their more durable itmes. They are peddling their arts and crafts to customers all over the world bringing cash into the village for expanding local services. The 'net also lets them bring distance education and telemedicine to the village.

Now, however, they have broadband. How is this possible in a place that barely has running water? It's actually a good demonstration of how broadband is spreading to rural Alaska.

Anchorage-based telecom GCI is adding the broadband service one village at a time. A satellite transceiver in the village connects to GCI's bird, bringing the high-speed service into the village. Each house connects to the village hub through a small radio antenna, so there are no wires for GCI to service.

The company hopes to bring this wireless Internet service to every village in the state. Where the market forces aren't enough, Senator Stevens has been generous enough to provide some funding.

It's a great example of shrinking the digital divide. Here's a village of Yupik Eskimos that's online.

See? Sen. Stevens' money isn't all pork.

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