Saint Paul Harbor in the Pribilof Islands. The Native community will soon receive improved broadband service thanks to USDA funding support. Photo courtesy of Scott Schuette and used with permission of TDX.
The significance of a recently awarded USDA Community Connect Broadband grant to the predominantly Native town of Saint Paul, Alaska, can’t really be appreciated until you know about this isolated community on one of the Pribilof Islands in the middle of the Bering Sea. It is not served by the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system and the major shipping routes are 250 miles to the south. The island is too far from the closest urban centers (more than 700 miles) to reach by light aircraft. No commercial jet service is available. Most supplies arrive by charter or flying service while freight arrives by barge, seasonally when the Bering Sea is ice-free. Winter travel in the Bering Sea can be extreme with violent seas and high winds. Air travel throughout the remaining months is often disrupted by heavy fog and ice fog. To say this is a remote area is an understatement.
The Community Connect project is desperately needed on Saint Paul Island. Available 2010 Census statistics show the community in distress. In 1990 the population was 763; by 2010 it was 479. This is at a time when Alaska’s less remote non-Native rural population is growing. With few available natural resources on this treeless island, Internet Connectivity is the core foundation for economic and demographic turn around. Read more »
As the drought continues, USDA and other Federal agencies are doing all we can to help farmers, ranchers and communities. Unfortunately, USDA’s tools are limited today. Due to inaction by Congress, many programs authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill expired on October 1. Other aspects of the law will continue to expire in the coming months.
This brings tremendous uncertainty for rural families – particularly livestock producers who have lost access to disaster programs, and dairy producers who no longer have access to dairy support programs.
As we encourage Congress to pass a multi-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill as soon as possible, USDA continues our work to strengthen the rural economy. This includes continuing our record efforts to expand access to broadband internet in rural areas. Read more »
Rural Development Utilities Administrator Jonathan Adelstein receives lesson in fiber splicing. Photo credit: USDA employee Delane Johnson.
On a recent visit to North Carolina, USDA Rural Development Utilities Administrator Jonathan Adelstein visited Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation (ATMC) in Brunswick County, North Carolina. Read more »
Headquartered in the community of Highmore in the heart of South Dakota, Venture Communications Cooperative is committed to providing friendly, first-rate service. Commitment to their members and customers has distinguished them as one of several businesses from across the country that were invited to Washington, D.C., today to share their ideas directly with the Obama Administration on how to strengthen rural communities and promote economic growth. It’s called “Champions of Change”.
Venture Communications Cooperative was selected because of the broadband infrastructure and service expansion improvements they’ve made. Venture Communications can streamline business communications from local and long distance phone services to Internet access. Read more »
Members of the Confederated Tribe of Warm Springs celebrate the start of a USDA funded project that will provide residents of the Reservation with Phone and Internet service.
Last week, USDA Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager made a brief, but impactful visit to Oregon joining USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker to announce program support and celebrate milestones in rural economic development with local communities. Read more »
Recently, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell hosted the first live terrestrial videoconference between the State Capital of Juneau and Bethel’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC), which administers a comprehensive health care delivery system for more than 50 rural, primarily Native communities in Southwest Alaska. The videoconference utilized TERRA-Southwest which now provides terrestrial broadband service for the first time from Anchorage to 65 remote, rural communities in Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Funding support was provided by USDA Rural Development through the Rural Utilities Service and the Recovery Act.
On the face of it, the news may not elicit much sensation, but let’s look at some facts. The YKHC and those many, inaccessible villages are located in the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta, one of the largest river deltas in the world, and at 75,000 square miles it’s roughly the size of Oregon. Can you imagine the immensity of not only planning, but the logistics in actually constructing the system that made today’s videoconference possible? Read more »