Alaska may not have much – a few billion salmon, lots of oil, a million odd snow dogs and a few human beings, but it has one thing going for it: it is the most wired state in the Union. Though one of the least populous, Alaska is ranked #1 for home computer penetration and Internet access – 83.7% of houses are plugged in! And the trend is growing. Bye end of 2004, the state will have nearly 100 percent Internet penetration – 99.5 percent of the state will have local Internet access, and 75 rural villages will have high speed access. Who knew that the state, which till forty yeas ago, did not have phone connections and a three minute call to Washington, D.C., cost $7.00.
One of the things that worked for Alaska was the 1996 Telecommunications Act, and has been the driver of the state’s telecom growth. (Well it had to work somewhere, damn it!) The state has attracted nearly $2.55 billion in telecom infrastructure investments. Mayor of Achnorage, Mark Begich believes that Anchorage’s telecom assets will fuel Anchorage’s position as the “Crossroads to the World” as U.S. trade with East Asia increases. Anchorage currently ranks as the nation’s #1 cargo airport for landed cargo weight and ranks 3rd in the world for cargo volume. With growing FedEx and UPS hubs that rely on a high-speed telecom network, the city’s location (10 flying hours from 95% of the industrialized world) makes it ideal for the importing and exporting of high value, time-sensitive products.