|$200,000/Home to Upgrade Broadband|
|Sunday, 30 January 2011 21:24|
The 26 families in McCarthy can only get satellite broadband. Four of those families told the census they had children. As part of the stimulus, the Rural Utilities Service is providing a $2,613,975 grant as well as a $2,613,975 loan. That's $100,000 per home in grant and as much again in loans. McCarthy was almost depopulated after the Kennecott copper mines played out in the 1930's, but the Alaska pipeline and a national park brought a few people to the region. I checked with the company and RUS. Neither had any reason to believe a substantially larger population was likely to move in.
Jonathan Adelstein of RUS in the second round of the stimulus worked hard to find ways to use the money to reach unserved homes, but there were very few proposals received. The majority of unserved homes are in small clusters like this, not towns large enough to be a reasonable business. In practice, almost no one besides the local telco and occasionally cableco has facilities in place nearby that could offer service. That's why auctions are unlikely to work for spending Connect America funds for the unserved. Auctions don't work well if there are only one or two natural bidders.
The Copper Valley Telephone Cooperative proposal claims the project will create 56 jobs, a figure that surprised me. Dave Dengel of Copper Valley explained the road is "gravel, (most of the time). The sites are remote and will require helicopter access and remotes camps during construction. Everything will need to be airlifted to the sites, concrete for the foundations will be mixed on site, which requires aggregate, water and cement to be lifted to the site."
Dave Dengel of Copper Valley writes "The region receives about 15,000 visitors annually. In fact it is the largest (area wise) national park in the United States. While there may be only 24 permanent households there are many more seasonal residents there. Also there are many business that operate out of McCarthy/Kennecott on a seasonal bases and their customers are contacting them via the internet and telephone."
Most of the homes have a total value of less than $200,000 based on the average household income of $17,000.
Copper Valley Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
McCarthy Microwave Shot
Copper Valley Telephone Cooperative, Inc. (CVTC) will extend terrestrial wireless broadband connectivity
to McCarthy, a remote rural community where CVTC is the serving LEC. The project will allow CVTC to
transition from a low-bandwidth-capacity satellite link to the proposed high-capacity terrestrial microwave
middle-mile service in an area that has no terrestrial connections to outside networks. Currently, all
communications in and out of McCarthy utilize earthorbiting satellites. The project will make services available to 26 households, 15 businesses, and 3 anchor institutions that are unserved, creating the potential for increased business growth, public services, public safety, and quality of life for ther esidents of McCarthy. The project will create 56 jobs.