Geospatial modeling for Alaska broadband

Alaska is catching up with other states in offering high-speed broadband.

"We no longer need to debate the benefits and role that broadband plays in the economy. The use of broadband services is prevalent in nearly all that we do from trade, commerce, education, and health care, to finance, government services, knowledge transfer, social networking, or simply entertainment." —Alaska Broadband Task Force Report, 2013

Technology, the Internet, and connectedness are part of our daily lives. Even today, Alaska lags in adequate statewide infrastructure for providing high-speed broadband access statewide. Working with the State of Alaska, SNAP designed a broadband mapping model to connect rural locations to the existing fiber backbone and to estimate parameters such as intra-network distances, user costs and numbers of users. 

The cost computation was based on the number of users and the connection distance. The cost model includes providing high-speed broadband using microwave and fiber optic facilities at the 100 Mbps speed recommended by the Task Force. The modeling work revealed that:

  • <300 network users: Microwave most viable economic option
  • >300 network users: Fiber optic cable became a viable option. For this reason, fiber is the technology of choice for the majority of the proposed networks. Costs were estimated on the per mile cost incurred by providers to deliver the service multiplied by the number of miles from the mainline fiber to the community. Costs for specific projects will vary based on location, geography, logistics, permitting requirements, and land availability.
Areas of expertise: 
Data visualization and analysis
Research collaboration
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