Trending Technology: 2020 will see Alaska fall in step with Lower 48 tech innovations.

Author:Joyal, Brad
 
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Alaska generally isn't viewed as a hotbed for technology trends. That will no longer be the case in 2020 and beyond, as new projects level the playing field and help set the state on par with the rest of the world. From the introduction of the state's first--and only--terrestrial fiber network to the implementation of increased satellite data bandwidth, Alaskans can expect technology trends to continue to blossom throughout the state.

"Going forward, Alaska can really stay on the same page from a dialogue standpoint with anywhere in the world when they start talking about any type of new technologies or services being deployed," says Matanuska Telephone Association (MTA) CEO Michael Burke. "People can now think about and realize that bandwidth constraints and capacity constraints are not an obstacle anymore in regard to Alaska doing pretty much anything from a technology standpoint."

Capacity Needs

MTA has witnessed exceptional growth in the average broadband consumption its customers need. That led the company to launch AlCan ONE, the state's first terrestrial fiber network, on May 1, 2019. The project, which includes a terrestrial cable that will bring 100 terabytes per second capacity to Alaska, is on pace to be completed this spring.

"As technology continues to grow and advance, our biggest observation we have in the marketplace from a technology standpoint is the exponential growth in broadband consumption," says Burke. "Just in the last couple years alone, our average consumption per customer has doubled in terms of the amount of bandwidth they need. That probably isn't going to slow down or decrease in terms of any kind of volume into the future, so we needed to keep pace with that growth and those demands."

For years, Alaska relied on four submarine cables between Alaska and the Lower 48. MTA was purchasing bandwidth from those cables, but Burke says MTA decided it needed a new system to keep up with technology trends. "A lot of it is being driven by all of the loT connected devices that people are putting into their homes or businesses," he says.

"As people deploy more and more devices that require internet bandwidth to operate and they end up living more and more interconnected lives where all these different technologies really integrate into their daily lives--the way they work and the way they play--we have to make sure that the services and the interactions we have with those customers address those needs as much as possible."

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