Alaska community first to get broadband via OneWeb satellite

Alaska community first to get broadband via OneWeb satellite

22 October 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Cover

The first community in the US to install a OneWeb satellite terminal for broadband is Akiak in southwestern Alaska.

The Akiak Native Community has worked with Pacific Dataport and Microcom to install the first OneWeb low Earth orbit (LEO) user terminal in the state – making Akiak the first LEO village in the US.

Kevin Hamer (pictured), president and CEO of Akiak Technology, said: “We are delivering affordable broadband internet to 100% of our homes and businesses because we have strong and committed tribal leaders and an outstanding project team.”

According to his LinkedIn profile, Hamer has had senior positions in the US Treasury, the Internal Revenue Service and the US Mint. He describes Akiak Technology as “a tribal-owned IT business that helps agencies adopt, integrate and accelerate digital transformation”, adding: “Our purpose is to create economic development for our indigenous people using statutory federal procurement benefits.”

The project in Akiak is “the culmination of many months of planning and the FCC’s recent granting of the 2.5GHz spectrum to tribes across America”. The Akiak Native Community is a federally recognised Indian – native American – tribe, and it owns Akiak Technology as a wholly owned tribal business.

Hamer said: “As core members of our team, Pacific Dataport and Microcom provided the OneWeb LEO solution and support Akiak Technology needed to finally start closing the digital divide for our unserved tribal communities in SW Alaska.”

Pacific Dataport will be supplying the OneWeb LEO community user terminal and backhaul that enable high-speed broadband connectivity.

The community’s user terminal communicates with the satellites overhead and connects to the community-wide distribution system, using Cambium technology provided by Microcom.

The broadband signal will be distributed via a tower, and each home will have a small antenna linked to a Wifi router.

Shawn Fitzpatrick, VP of engineering at Pacific Dataport, said: “I am thrilled to announce the first testing of the OneWeb network connection was established between the user terminal in Akiak and OneWeb satellites, completing the connection to the internet.”

He said that beta testing will continue “as new hardware and software are perfected. We are dedicated to seeing broadband reach all of Alaska and look forward to leveraging OneWeb’s network to help make vital connectivity possible in Akiak and communities across the state.”

The OneWeb capacity will allow residents to have access to very fast broadband and will enable for tele-health, education, commerce and entertainment. Residents will be able to stream television and music, conduct meetings on two-way video software and play games.