After years of waiting, Akiak turns on high-speed internet

A group of kids sit underneath a deck.
Children hang out near the school in Akiak to access wireless internet through their phones earlier this year, before the community turned on high speed internet for all residents. (Katie Basile/KYUK)

After four months of construction and years of waiting, the village of Akiak turned on high speed internet for all its residents on Nov. 15. It’s the first community in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to bring broadband to all its residents.

Akiak Chief Mike Williams Sr. said that the first thing his son-in-law did that morning was to download a movie.

“He said he did it in one minute,” Williams Sr. said.

He said that the same task would have taken tens of hours with the internet service they had before.

“We’re ready to do celebration today in our community, and everyone is invited,” Williams Sr. said.

Akiak will be offering the service to residents for free for the first year. The village is paying for its broadband project with coronavirus relief funding. After the first year, internet service will still cost a fraction of what it did before, and it’ll be over twice as fast.

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Akiak’s broadband is powered by low Earth orbit satellites. It’s a newly available technology that can deliver high-speed internet to rural areas that cables can’t reach.

Although Williams Sr. and the tribe have been talking about broadband for years, the construction project began and was completed in a single summer.

“I’m very excited and very, very proud of what we’ve been able to do as a tribal government,” Williams Sr. said.

He said that Akiak will now turn its attention to helping other Y-K Delta tribes bring high-speed internet to their communities.

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