Possible Solutions

*This video was provided by the NRECA 

Rural Co-ops

Realizing electricity would become a necessity, President Franklin Roosevelt enacted the Rural Electrification Act in 1936. This Act distributed federal loans to rural areas to establish electric cooperatives and bring power to unserved areas. Rural communities fought for their coverage and prevailed. Cooperatives now provide electricity all throughout the country. Here in Fairbanks, electricity is provided through our very own cooperative, Golden Valley Electric or GVEA. 

For more information on rural electrification, click here.

Electric Broadband COOPERATIVES

Nearly a century later, we are facing the same problem. Broadband is a necessary part in our everyday lives, but some rural areas still do not have it. It is time that we change this and commit to increasing access to a necessary utility. The cooperative models adopted to bring electricity to rural areas were one of the most effective means of providing access. Some of these cooperatives saw the frustration their members had with poor broadband coverage and decided to fix it. They came together and began providing their members with high speed fiber in addition to electricity. 


It is estimated that out of 900 cooperatives, 10-15% of the have already began to deploy FTTH, or fiber to the home projects. These cooperatives drafted a plans for multi-step projects and after completing each phase, the cooperative boards or governing members reviewed the effectiveness and costs of the next phase and decided whether or not to continue. Many cooperatives have bundled multiple services such as internet, phone, and TV coverage to lower costs and increase affordability for consumers.

(Click on the stars dotting the map below to look at each cooperative)

eXAmPLE pRICES

Below are screenshots of different rates cooperatives across the country are charging their members for coverage. The prices range depending upon location, however they all generally follow the same cost trend. 

Elevate Fiber
Elevate Fiber

Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties of Colorado

Co-Mo Connect
Co-Mo Connect

Tipton, Missouri

Gobec Fiber Network
Gobec Fiber Network

Cassville, Missouri

Elevate Fiber
Elevate Fiber

Montrose, Delta, and Gunnison Counties of Colorado

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Municipal Broadband:

Another possible option is for the Fairbanks North Star Borough to develop the infrastructure needed to improve broadband here in Fairbanks. Municipal networks are a little different than the cooperative model, however, they function in a similar fashion. 

 

Municipal networks have a variety of models, ranging from autonomous networks that provide full retail services, to networks built in partnership with internet service providers, who utilize the infrastructure to provide services to their customers.  For more information on the various ways municipalities around the country are developing their own networks, refer to the fact sheet below.

Municipal Networks are not without their critics. Many of these critics question the financial viability of these networks. For a comprehensive analysis and response to these concerns, click here.

TV White space:

TV white space is the series of blank channels with flashing gray, white and black screens that operate around 600MHz, the transmission speed at which the information and programs can be exchanged.

 

In many rural areas like those in Fairbanks, these TV stations already exist because they are less likely to impede city functions with the various transmissions occurring at high intensity in less dense areas. In areas like Wisconsin, internet providers are planning to use these blank channels in order to transmit what they call "super wifi", because of its ability to navigate long distances through changing topography. 

TV white space can bring speeds around 25 mbps to households through their TV and it has many advantages including much cheaper infrastructure because most of the equipment to transmit internet is already in place. In addition, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) recently established lenient regulations on the use of white space, allowing for unlicensed radio transmission devices to use the white space. This paves the way for wifi transmission as well. 

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