Legislature(2021 - 2022)ADAMS 519

05/06/2021 01:30 PM House FINANCE

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
+ Presentations: TELECONFERENCED
- Village Safe Water Program by Ruth Kostik,
Administrative Services Director, Dept. of
Environmental Conservation
<Above Item Removed from Agenda>
- Broadband Need for School Districts by Heidi
Teshner, Director of Finance & Support Services,
Dept. of Education & Early Development
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
- State of Broadband by Christine O'Connor,
Exec. Dir., Alaska Telecom Assoc.
Moved CSHB 19(EDC) Out of Committee
Moved HB 155 Out of Committee
Moved HB 182 Out of Committee
                  HOUSE FINANCE COMMITTEE                                                                                       
                        May 6, 2021                                                                                             
                         1:47 p.m.                                                                                              
1:47:19 PM                                                                                                                    
CALL TO ORDER                                                                                                                 
Co-Chair Merrick called the House Finance Committee meeting                                                                     
to order at 1:47 p.m.                                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Representative Neal Foster, Co-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Kelly Merrick, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Dan Ortiz, Vice-Chair                                                                                            
Representative Ben Carpenter                                                                                                    
Representative Bryce Edgmon                                                                                                     
Representative DeLena Johnson                                                                                                   
Representative Andy Josephson                                                                                                   
Representative Bart LeBon                                                                                                       
Representative Sara Rasmussen                                                                                                   
Representative Steve Thompson                                                                                                   
Representative Adam Wool                                                                                                        
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
ALSO PRESENT                                                                                                                  
Representative Johnathan Kreiss-Tompkins.                                                                                       
PRESENT VIA TELECONFERENCE                                                                                                    
Christine O'Connor, Executive Director, Alaska Telecom                                                                          
Association; Heidi Teshner, Director, Finance and Support                                                                       
Services, Department of Education and Early Development.                                                                        
HB 19     LIMITED TEACHER CERTIFICATES; LANGUAGES                                                                               
          CSHB  19(EDC) was  REPORTED out  of committee  with                                                                   
          five  "do   pass"  recommendations  and   four  "no                                                                   
          recommend"    recommendations    and    with    one                                                                   
          previously    published    fiscal   impact    note:                                                                   
HB 70     APPROP: CAP; REAPPROP; SUPP; AMEND                                                                                    
          HB 70  was HEARD and HELD in committee  for further                                                                   
HB 155    COURT SYSTEM PROVIDE VISITORS & EXPERTS                                                                               
          HB  155 was REPORTED  out of  committee with  a "do                                                                   
          pass"  recommendation   and  with   two  previously                                                                   
          published   fiscal  impact   notes:  FN1(ADM)   and                                                                   
HB 182    EXTEND FISHERY RESOURCE LAND. TAX CREDIT                                                                              
          HB  182 was REPORTED  out of  committee with  a "do                                                                   
          pass"  recommendation   and  with   one  previously                                                                   
          published fiscal impact note: FN1(REV).                                                                               
Co-Chair Merrick reviewed the agenda for the day.                                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 70                                                                                                             
     "An   Act  making   appropriations,  including   capital                                                                   
     appropriations,     reappropriations,      and     other                                                                   
     appropriations;   making  supplemental   appropriations;                                                                   
     making   appropriations   to   capitalize   funds;   and                                                                   
     providing for an effective date."                                                                                          
1:48:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINE  O'CONNOR,   EXECUTIVE  DIRECTOR,   ALASKA  TELECOM                                                                   
ASSOCIATION (via  teleconference), introduced  the PowerPoint                                                                   
Presentation: "State  of Broadband." She shared  that she was                                                                   
a  lifelong  Alaskan who  grew  up  in  Bristol Bay  and  was                                                                   
"deeply  committed"   to  increasing   broadband  access   in                                                                   
Alaska.  She  discussed  the   Alaska  Telecom  Association's                                                                   
(ATA)  providers,  where  they   served,  and  the  broadband                                                                   
capacity in the state presently and in the future.                                                                              
1:49:08 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor  turned  to  slide  2  titled  "Alaska  Telecom                                                                   
Association."  She related  that the  association was  formed                                                                   
in  1949 and  worked  to support  telecommunication  services                                                                   
throughout Alaska.  Over the past 20 years  broadband was not                                                                   
only  the  focus but  the  mandate  of the  association.  The                                                                   
association represented  all Alaska-based carriers. She noted                                                                 
the broad  diversity in  membership from  small family  owned                                                                   
companies  to  statewide  companies;   seven  were  community                                                                   
owned  cooperatives,  four were  privately  owned  companies,                                                                   
two  companies were  investor  owned, one  was a  municipally                                                                   
owned utility, and one company was employee owned.                                                                              
1:49:53 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. O'Connor  provided a map  from the Regulatory  Commission                                                                   
of  Alaska (RCA)  of the  service  areas of  each company  on                                                                   
slide 3.                                                                                                                        
Ms.  O'Connor  addressed  slide  4  titled  "Fixed  Broadband                                                                   
Coverage"  that depicted  a map  of the  coverage around  the                                                                   
state.  The  information  was   based  on  federal  broadband                                                                   
reports,  which  were  submitted by  all  internet  providers                                                                   
twice  each year  to  the Federal  Communications  Commission                                                                   
(FCC). She  reported that  recently the  FCC required  a much                                                                   
more finely  detailed map  that would  include the  broadband                                                                   
speeds  available  everywhere   in  the  United  States.  She                                                                   
expected that  the map would  be completed  in a year  or so.                                                                   
Ms.  O'Connor relayed  that the  map on  slide 5  represented                                                                   
ATA's cellular  coverage from  4G/LTE depicted in  orange and                                                                   
blue to 3G service in yellow, based on the FCC report.                                                                          
Ms.  O'Connor continued  to slide  6 titled  "Last Mile"  and                                                                   
explained  how the  networks were  structured. The  broadband                                                                   
networks were  divided into two  parts: last mile  and middle                                                                   
mile. Last mile  connected the end user to  the provider. She                                                                   
stressed that the  last mile was important because  a "robust                                                                   
connection" was necessary for fast speeds.                                                                                      
1:52:08 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. O'Connor spoke  to slide 7 titled "Last  Mile Expansion:"                                                                   
She indicated  that last  mile expansion  was happening  at a                                                                   
"rapid  pace."  Approximately   60  thousand  locations  were                                                                   
updated  or deployed  in  recent  years. She  listed  several                                                                   
projects  by providers  and  noted  that every  provider  was                                                                   
currently investing  in last mile  deployment. She  relayed a                                                                   
few projects recently completed:                                                                                                
     Alaska  Communications has  brought  high-speed internet                                                                 
     to  16,000 rural Alaska  residents  since 2017 and  will                                                                   
     reach   another   16,000   rural   Alaskans   by   2025.                                                                   
     Communities  now served  with new  or upgraded  internet                                                                   
     speeds include  Delta Junction, Fairbanks,  Homer, Hope,                                                                   
     Kenai,  Klawock,  Larsen  Bay, Ninilchik,  North  Kenai,                                                                   
     North   Pole,   Seldovia,   Soldotna,   Kake,   Kasilof,                                                                   
     Sterling and Thorne Bay.                                                                                                   
     Alaska  Power  & Telephone  has  completed  FTTH in  the                                                                   
     Klawock  Lake  Subdivision,  fiber  to  the  school  and                                                                   
     clinic  in Dot  Lake, high  speed broadband  deployments                                                                   
     in  Tok  and  Wrangell,   Skagway,  Haines,  Petersburg,                                                                   
     Craig, and Metlakatla.                                                                                                     
     Copper   Valley  telecom   completed   a  FTTH   project                                                                   
     supporting   speeds  of   up  25   Mbps  downstream   in                                                                   
     GCI     Increased  wireless  speeds  in  Dillingham  and                                                                   
     surrounding  communities,  and constructed  new  towers,                                                                   
     in 2020-2021.                                                                                                            
Co-Chair   Merrick  indicated   that  Representative   Edgmon                                                                   
joined the meeting.                                                                                                             
1:53:23 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor  turned  to  slide  8  titled   Middle  Mile  -                                                                   
Fiber.   She  explained  that  the  last  mile  connected  to                                                                   
middle mile  networks that connected  to the world.  Alaska's                                                                   
middle mile  was a  combination of  technologies. Alaska  had                                                                   
thousands of  miles of fiber  that allowed for  huge capacity                                                                   
and  very  fast   speeds  and  was  the  best   method  where                                                                   
possible. She characterized it as the gold standard.                                                                            
Ms.  O'Connor  spoke  to  slide   9  titled  "Middle  Mile  -                                                                   
Microwave."  She pointed  out that  since it  was not  always                                                                   
possible  to  build fiber,  broadband  providers  constructed                                                                   
microwave   networks  extending   hundreds   of  miles.   The                                                                   
microwave  networks   allow  for   delivery  of   high  speed                                                                   
broadband.  However, the  technology had  lower capacity  and                                                                   
higher operating costs when compared to fiber                                                                                   
1:54:48 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor continued  to slide  10 titled  "Middle Mile  -                                                                   
Satellite.   She  offered that  in  Alaska there  were  still                                                                   
middle   mile  gaps   in  fiber   or  microwave   connection.                                                                   
Satellites  provided the  backhaul  connection  to the  world                                                                   
and had been  used for decades. She delineated  that multiple                                                                   
geosynchronous,  or traditional,  satellite providers  served                                                                   
the state.  However, Alaska  still had  large gaps  where the                                                                   
only  middle mile  connection was  through satellites,  which                                                                   
were limited in  capacity, experience latency  (lag), and was                                                                   
vulnerable  to interference.  She  noted that  the Lower'  48                                                                   
[Continental United  States] had nearly ubiquitous  access to                                                                   
fiber backbone  connections and rarely considered  the middle                                                                   
mile connection or its cost.                                                                                                    
1:55:55 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor turned  to  slide  11: "Middle  Mile  is Key  -                                                                   
2010"  and voiced  that Alaska    middle  mile networks  were                                                                   
changing  rapidly. The  slide depicted  a map  of the  middle                                                                   
mile  network in  2010. She  pointed to  the undersea  cables                                                                   
connecting  Alaska  to the  Lower  '48, the  TERRA  microwave                                                                   
network  in Western  Alaska, and  the black  dots showed  the                                                                   
locations where schools were served solely by satellite.                                                                        
Ms.  O'Connor highlighted  slide  12 titled  "Middle Mile  is                                                                   
Key  - 2020."  She  expounded that  in  recent years  massive                                                                   
investment in  middle mile was  made. She pointed to  the map                                                                   
portraying  new connectivity  along  the  North Slope  coast,                                                                   
expansion  of  microwave networks  in  southwest,  northwest,                                                                   
and  southeast  Alaska,  new  fiber  running  up  the  Dalton                                                                   
Highway,  and terrestrial  links into Canada.  The map  would                                                                   
depict  more fiber  links as  projects  were being  completed                                                                   
and funded.                                                                                                                     
1:56:55 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor reviewed  slide  13 titled  "New Middle  Mile."                                                                   
She highlighted some recent new middle mile projects:                                                                           
     Alaska Power  & Telephone constructed an  undersea cable                                                                   
     between  Juneau, Haines, and  Skagway, and was  doubling                                                                   
     the capacity  of their microwave network  between Juneau                                                                   
     and Ketchikan.                                                                                                             
     Cordova Telecom expanded its microwave network in                                                                          
     Prince William Sound.                                                                                                      
     GCI completed a multi-year upgrade to equipment at 42                                                                    
     microwave sites in Western Alaska, adding more                                                                             
     KPU completed Ketchikan 1, the first undersea                                                                              
     connection to Canada, connecting to its Fiber to the                                                                       
     Home (FTTH) network.                                                                                                       
     MTA constructed its AlcanOne project, the first                                                                            
     terrestrial fiber connection from Alaska into Canada.                                                                      
     Nushagak Cooperative completed a major expansion of                                                                        
     its microwave network.                                                                                                     
1:58:30 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. O'Connor commented  that investment in projects  like the                                                                   
one's  listed  resulted  in nearly  80  percent  of  Alaskans                                                                   
having  access to  100  Megabit  speeds, or  gigabyte  speeds                                                                   
that  were  all  fed  by  the  expanding  fiber  middle  mile                                                                   
Representative  Rasmussen   asked  how  much   the  companies                                                                   
listed on slide  13 expended in dollars on  the projects. Ms.                                                                   
O'Connor  responded that  since 2017  ATA companies  invested                                                                   
over $1.2 billion in capital expenditures.                                                                                      
1:59:22 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wool cited  slide 12 and  asked about  middle                                                                   
mile  locations. He  related that  he  had good  connectivity                                                                   
since  fiber  had  been installed  on  his  street.  However,                                                                   
neighbors  close  to him  in  Fairbanks,  did not  have  good                                                                   
internet  connection.   He  understood  that   some  sparsely                                                                   
populated  neighborhoods were  not economically feasible  for                                                                   
internet  service.  He  wondered   who  was  responsible  for                                                                   
providing  service.  He wondered  if  she would  address  the                                                                   
issues in her presentation.                                                                                                     
Ms. O'Connor  answered that  she would  talk about  last mile                                                                   
spending opportunities.  She emphasized  that resources  were                                                                   
needed for last mile and middle mile to fill the gaps.                                                                          
2:01:10 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor  addressed  slide 14  titled  "ReConnect  Pilot                                                                   
Program Round 1."  She relayed that on December  3, 2019, the                                                                   
United  States  Department  of   Agriculture  (USDA)  awarded                                                                   
Cordova  Telecom a $18.9  million grant  to connect  Yakutat.                                                                   
The  program's mandate  was to  fast-track broadband  grants.                                                                 
Cordova  Telecom  Company  (CTC) would  connect  the  village                                                                   
with   a  series   of  five   tower   sites,  accessible   by                                                                   
helicopter,  which  would  create  a  microwave  middle  mile                                                                   
network and  would then construct  a FTTH network  in Yakutat                                                                   
capable of high speeds.                                                                                                         
Ms.  O'Connor  spoke  to slide  15  titled  "ReConnect  Pilot                                                                   
Program  Round 2."  She reported  that on  October 12,  2020,                                                                   
the USDA  awarded a $21.5 million  grant to Alaska  Power and                                                                   
Telephone  (APT) for service  to Coffman  Cove and  Kasaan on                                                                   
Prince of  Wales Island.  She indicated that  round 2  of the                                                                   
ReConnect  Pilot   Program  was  even  more   successful  for                                                                   
Alaska.  Alaska  Power  and  Telephone  was  building  a  new                                                                   
subsea  cable  between  Juneau,  Petersburg,  and  Prince  of                                                                   
Wales Island. The  undersea cable would support  buildout and                                                                   
increased speeds across Prince of Wales Island.                                                                                 
2:02:57 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor  discussed  slide 16  titled  "ReConnect  Pilot                                                                   
Program  Round   2."  She  conveyed  that  another   round  2                                                                   
ReConnect  program  was  awarded   to  General  Communication                                                                   
Incorporated (GCI)  to build an 800 mile subsea  fiber system                                                                   
from  Kodiak along  the south  side of  the Alaska  Peninsula                                                                   
and the  Aleutians to Unalaska.  The fiber would  come ashore                                                                   
in  Larsen  Bay,  Chignik  Bay, Sand  Point,  King  Cove  and                                                                   
Akutan,  served   by  fixed  wireless  networks   capable  of                                                                   
providing 100Mbps of symmetric speeds.                                                                                          
Ms.  O'Connor turned  to  slide  17 titled  "ReConnect  Pilot                                                                   
Program  Round 2    Kaktovik  Microwave  Project Scope."  She                                                                   
detailed that on  November 12, 2020, the USDA  awarded a $5.3                                                                   
million   grant  to   Arctic   Slope  Telephone   Association                                                                   
Cooperative (ASTAC)  to connect  Kaktovik. ASTAC  would build                                                                   
a  microwave  connection  to Kaktovik  and  FTTH  connections                                                                   
throughout the village.  In addition, ASTAC was  also awarded                                                                   
a Community  Connect  grant from  the USDA  to build a  fiber                                                                   
line extension between  Utqiagvik and Atqasuk, and  a FTTH in                                                                   
Atqasuk. She furthered  that the application process  for the                                                                   
grants was  burdensome,  as well as  rigorous and  expensive.                                                                   
She  opined  that   the  awards  were  a  testament   to  the                                                                   
commitment of the companies.                                                                                                    
2:04:21 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. O'Connor  advanced to slide  18 and continued  to discuss                                                                   
the ReConnect  Pilot Program Round  2. She communicated  that                                                                   
on November  12, 2020, USDA awarded  a $4.1 million  grant to                                                                   
TelAlaska  to build  fiber connections  from  Nome to  Teller                                                                   
and  Brevig Mission  and a  $1.9 million  grant to  Matanuska                                                                   
Telephone Association  to build FTTH connections  to Caswell.                                                                   
She  believed  that  the ReConnect  program  was  a  powerful                                                                   
example of  what can happen when  a new program  aligned with                                                                   
existing   state  and   federal   programs   and  created   a                                                                   
springboard   for  great  advances   in  Alaska's   broadband                                                                   
infrastructure.  She characterized  it  as  a missing  puzzle                                                                   
piece that turns  a need for connectivity into  real projects                                                                   
that serve Alaskans.                                                                                                            
2:04:58 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Carpenter asked if  Ms. O'Connor  would speak                                                                   
to  the  amount  of  grant  money   received  for  last  mile                                                                   
Ms. O'Connor would  follow-up with the committee.   She noted                                                                   
that  the ReConnect  grants included  funding  for both  last                                                                   
mile and middle mile.                                                                                                           
2:05:45 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Carpenter  commented  that his  community  of                                                                   
Nikiski  in  Northern Kenai  was  not  served by  high  speed                                                                   
internet. He wondered  if other communities were  in the same                                                                   
situation. He  remarked that "a  lot of money"  supported the                                                                   
middle  mile  and   wondered  if  the  "business   model  was                                                                   
insufficient to  address non-government spending  at the last                                                                   
Ms. O'Connor agreed  that there were many places  in the same                                                                   
situation  and feeling  frustrated.  She  commented that  "it                                                                   
was  a  balancing  act"  for  providers  trying  to  increase                                                                   
service  with  limited  resources.   She  relayed  that  more                                                                   
resources  were  currently being  distributed  for  broadband                                                                   
services. She  believed the industry  would finally  have the                                                                   
resources  and the opportunity  to connect  more places.  The                                                                   
association was working arduously  to obtain the resources.                                                                     
2:07:56 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor  moved to  slide  19  titled "Low  Earth  Orbit                                                                   
Satellites  (LEOS)." She  announced that  coming soon  in the                                                                   
middle mile  space was a new  generation of satellites    the                                                                   
low  earth orbit  or  LEOs. She  deemed  that the  satellites                                                                   
might  be game  changers  in connecting  remote  communities.                                                                   
Ms. O'Connor reported  on satellite companies.  She expounded                                                                   
that Starlink  had launched  over 1,200  satellites and  were                                                                   
beta-testing  their "better  than  nothing"  service  in  the                                                                 
Lower '48.  Starlink was  waiting for  approval from  the FCC                                                                   
to  complete their  new constellation  to  cover the  Arctic.                                                                   
OneWeb  launched  110  satellites   and  predicted  being  in                                                                   
service  in 2022. Telesat  secured millions  in funding  from                                                                   
the Canadian  government as  it looked  to deploy a  smaller,                                                                   
more  efficient constellation  of nearly  300 LEO  satellites                                                                   
by 2023.  She noted  that at  least one  Alaskan company  was                                                                   
purchasing  LEO capacity  from  Telestat.  She posed  several                                                                   
questions   regarding  how  the   technology  could   connect                                                                   
Alaskans, cost,  timelines, capacity, lifespan,  reliability,                                                                   
and sustainability.  The  questions were  all things  the ATA                                                                   
members were investigating.                                                                                                     
Representative Carpenter  asked if any  of the LEOS  would be                                                                   
placed in the Northern latitudes.                                                                                               
Ms.  O'Connor responded  in  the affirmative.  She  indicated                                                                   
that satellites were  being deployed to serve  all of Alaska.                                                                   
The  Arctic was  currently a  big interest  to many  entities                                                                   
for various  reasons,  and it  was a very  welcome change  in                                                                   
2:10:52 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor continued  to  slide  20 titled   2.5GHz  Rural                                                                   
Tribal Spectrum."  She purported that spectrum  was a program                                                                   
set  up by  the FCC  in  the prior  year.  The 2.5  gigahertz                                                                   
(GHz)  spectrum  set  aside  was  a  unique  opportunity  for                                                                   
tribes  in   rural  areas   to  directly  access   unassigned                                                                   
spectrum   over    tribal   lands,   subject    to   buildout                                                                   
Ms.  O'Connor  presented slide  21  titled  "How can  we  use                                                                   
2.5Hz in  Alaska?" She reported  that there were a  couple of                                                                   
potential  uses for  the spectrum.  One way  was using  fixed                                                                   
wireless deployments  that was  effective but was  challenged                                                                   
by  trees   and  rugged  terrain.   She  added   that  Alaska                                                                   
Communications  had deployed  many  of these  systems on  the                                                                   
Kenai  Peninsula   and  would  soon  expand   service  around                                                                   
Fairbanks using  free, unlicensed spectrum. She  related that                                                                   
over a dozen  Wireless Internet Service Providers  (WISPs) in                                                                   
Alaska used  this technology.  Another possible use  would be                                                                   
for a 5G mobile network.                                                                                                        
2:12:28 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. O'Connor addressed slide 22 titled "What's Next?                                                                            
     Private investment                                                                                                         
     Federal Programs                                                                                                           
Ms.  O'Connor posed  the question  of how  the pieces  worked                                                                   
together  for   the  massive   investment  needed   to  serve                                                                   
Alaska's   most  remote  communities.   She  indicated   that                                                                   
currently, some  of the pieces  were working together.  First                                                                   
was  investment   from   Alaska's   telecom  community.   She                                                                 
elaborated  that in the  past 4  years, ATA member  companies                                                                   
have  spent  over  $1.2  billion   on  capital  expenditures.                                                                   
Nearly 85 percent  of Alaskans to receive at  least 25/3 Mbps                                                                   
service,  and  80 percent  were  able  to access  100Mbps  or                                                                   
faster service.  Second,  she believed  that it was  critical                                                                   
to have  stable, predictable programs  at the  federal level.                                                                   
Very  often, federal  programs  made  a project  viable.  She                                                                   
commented that  the state played  a role. She  expounded that                                                                   
Administrative  Order 310  (AO 310)  directed the  Department                                                                   
of  Transportation  and  Public   Facilities  (DOT)  and  the                                                                   
Department  of  Natural  Resources (DNR)  to  streamline  its                                                                   
respective  permitting  processes  for  broadband  facilities                                                                   
deployment   projects.  Right   of  way   policies  and   fee                                                                   
structures   can  either  accelerate   or  impede   broadband                                                                   
deployment.  She voiced  that Congress  played a large  role.                                                                   
President  Biden's American  Jobs Act  proposed $100  billion                                                                   
for broadband to build future-proof networks.                                                                                   
Ms.   O'Connor  continued   to  slide   23  titled    Federal                                                                   
Communications Commission (FCC)                                                                                                 
     Emergency Broadband Benefit                                                                                                
     Emergency Connectivity Fund                                                                                                
     Connect America Fund                                                                                                       
Ms.  O'Connor spoke  to some  of the  programs which  support                                                                   
broadband   at  the   FCC.  She   explained  that   Emergency                                                                   
Broadband Benefit  (EEB) provided  a $75 credit  on broadband                                                                   
services  for qualifying  low  income consumers,  until  $3.2                                                                   
billion  was  expended  and  began   on  May  12,  2021.  The                                                                   
Emergency Connectivity  Fund added  $7 billion  to the e-rate                                                                 
program  to  support  connected  devices  for  students.  She                                                                   
furthered  that the  Connect America  Fund provided  critical                                                                   
support  for   both  constructing  and  operating   broadband                                                                   
networks  in  rural,  high  cost  areas.  Without  the  fund,                                                                   
Alaska's  networks would  not be  where they  are today.  All                                                                   
the  programs required  meeting  performance obligations  and                                                                   
had  strict accountability  metrics.  Every company  reported                                                                   
financial  information, performance  benchmarks, and  more to                                                                   
both the  FCC and the Regulatory  Commission of  Alaska (RCA)                                                                   
throughout the year.                                                                                                            
2:16:45 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair  Foster noted  she  mentioned that  the  application                                                                   
process  for the EBB  program began  on by  May 12,  2021. He                                                                   
inquired whether  there was a  deadline for applications.  He                                                                   
also wondered  if she had done  any estimates as to  when the                                                                   
$3.2 billion funding would run out.                                                                                             
Ms.  O'Connor  replied   that  there  was  no   deadline  and                                                                   
applications  were   available  through  the   local  telecom                                                                   
provider.  She guessed that  the program  would last  for six                                                                   
months unless Congress added funding.                                                                                           
Ms. O'Connor turned to slide 24 titled "USDA:"                                                                                  
     Community Connect                                                                                                          
     Distance Learning & Telemedicine                                                                                           
Ms.  O'Connor informed  the  committee that  Round  3 of  the                                                                   
ReConnect  program would  begin in  the summer  of 2021.  The                                                                   
program  was   another  opportunity   to  bring   $1  billion                                                                   
injection  of  grant  funding   to  Alaska  and  continue  to                                                                   
advance  broadband services  to Alaskans.  USDA also  had the                                                                   
Community  Connect  grant  program  that  offered  grants  to                                                                   
applicants   to   provide   broadband   service   in   rural,                                                                   
economically-challenged  communities  where service  did  not                                                                 
exist.  The  grants  were  up to  $3  million  for  broadband                                                                   
projects.  There  have  been multiple  awards  in  Alaska  in                                                                   
recent  years including  to ASTAC  in  Point Hope,  Matanuska                                                                   
Telephone  Association in  Glacier View  and Chickaloon,  and                                                                   
Copper  Valley Telecom  in  Tatitlek. Finally,  the  Distance                                                                   
Learning  and Telemedicine  grants  helped rural  communities                                                                   
acquire the  technology and  training to connect  educational                                                                   
and  medical  professionals  with the  teachers  and  medical                                                                   
providers  who  serve  rural residents.  The  previous  fall,                                                                   
USDA awarded $4.4 million to six projects in Alaska.                                                                            
2:19:45 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.   O'Connor   turned   to  slide   25   titled   "National                                                                   
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)                                                                        
     Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants, $1B                                                                                  
     Broadband Infrastructure Program, $300M                                                                                    
     Connecting Minority Communities $300M                                                                                      
Ms.  O'Connor discussed  that  the most  recent COVID  relief                                                                   
bill  directed significant  funding  for  broadband to  NTIA.                                                                   
She elucidated that  $1 billion went directly  to tribes. The                                                                   
money was one-time funding. She defined   eligible entity" as                                                                 
a  Tribal  Government;  a Tribal  College  or  University;  a                                                                   
Tribal  organization; or  a Native  Corporation. The  funding                                                                   
could  be broadly  used:  expand access  to  and adoption  of                                                                   
broadband  service on Tribal  land, or  for remote  learning,                                                                   
telework,  or   telehealth  resources  during   the  COVID19                                                                    
pandemic. She detailed  that at a high level  the funds could                                                                   
be used to  support broadband service for students  or people                                                                   
working  from home.  She emphasized  that  the tribal  grants                                                                   
were  not competitive,  and  every qualifying  tribal  entity                                                                   
had access  to a  share of  the funding.  She indicated  that                                                                   
the  Broadband  Infrastructure   Program  was  a  partnership                                                                   
between  states, municipalities,  or  boroughs and  providers                                                                   
to  support  broadband  infrastructure  deployment  to  areas                                                                   
lacking  broadband,  especially  rural areas.  She  qualified                                                                   
that the scoring  criteria was not favorable  for Alaska, and                                                                   
the  awards  were  spread nationwide.  There  was  also  $300                                                                   
million  for  the  Connecting  Minority  Communities  program                                                                   
that  supported  broadband  for  tribal  colleges  and  those                                                                   
serving minority  communities  that included some  University                                                                   
of Alaska  rural campuses.  The program was  a pilot  and was                                                                   
likely to become an ongoing program.                                                                                            
2:22:09 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative LeBon  returned to slide 23. He  cited the two                                                                   
bullet   points:   Emergency   Broadband  Benefit   and   the                                                                   
Emergency  Connectivity  Fund.   He  brought  up  the  public                                                                   
safety issue  of the  9-1-1 caller  and location  information                                                                   
in  rural  Alaska.  He  asked  Ms.  O'Connor  to  update  the                                                                   
committee on the issue.                                                                                                         
Ms. O'Connor  responded that ATA  continued to work  with the                                                                   
Public Safety  Answering Points  (PSAP) to help  identify how                                                                   
they   wanted   calls   routed  and   what   technology   and                                                                   
connections were  needed. She  related that a  new technology                                                                   
called  "rapid  SOS   provided  location  information  at  no                                                                   
charge to  the PSAP.  The service had  been deployed  in many                                                                   
PSAPs  because of  the  9-1-1 working  group  from the  prior                                                                   
year.  When  a call  was  received  from  a cell  phone,  the                                                                   
location popped  up on  a screen  and pinpointed the  caller,                                                                   
the system even reported a caller's movement.                                                                                   
Representative  LeBon  asked  how  close  rapid  SOS  was  to                                                                   
universal use.                                                                                                                  
Ms.  O'Connor indicated  that  the technology  was  currently                                                                   
used   in   Alaska.   Representative   LeBon   wondered   how                                                                   
widespread  the  use  was  in   rural  Alaska.  Ms.  O'Connor                                                                   
answered  that  she did  not  recall  all the  locations  but                                                                   
acknowledged that  it was not in comprehensive use  in all of                                                                   
rural Alaska.  The software  relied on  the cellular  network                                                                   
being data capable.                                                                                                             
2:25:31 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Ortiz  referenced  slide  25  and  asked  if  Ms.                                                                   
O'Connor  had   provided  information  about   how  different                                                                   
tribes could access the grants.                                                                                                 
Ms.  O'Connor responded  that  the grants  were  administered                                                                   
through  NTIA. The  administration  was holding  a series  of                                                                   
tribal   engagements   through   webinars  and   calls.   She                                                                   
furthered  that any  tribe that  was  interested could  reach                                                                   
out to NTIA or ATA.                                                                                                             
Ms.  O'Connor moved  to slide  26 titled  "State -  Potential                                                                   
Action Steps                                                                                                                    
     Gather Data                                                                                                                
     Extend Availability                                                                                                        
     Support Affordability                                                                                                      
     Expedite Deployment                                                                                                        
Ms.  O'Connor declared  that  ATA's members  had  "incredible                                                                   
expertise  and   a  decades-long  successful   track  record"                                                                 
working  closely   with  other  stakeholders   in  education,                                                                   
healthcare,   and   commerce.   ATA   was   eager   to   find                                                                   
opportunities   and   support    broadband   expansion.   She                                                                   
understood  that  Governor  Dunleavy was  forming  a  working                                                                   
group  of  stakeholders.  She   observed  that  collaboration                                                                   
worked  very  effectively in  the  prior  year when  a  broad                                                                   
group of  stakeholders formed a  working group focused  on 9-                                                                   
1-1  services in  Alaska where  experts  from multiple  areas                                                                   
worked    together    to    share    expertise    and    made                                                                   
recommendations,  with very  broad  consensus. She  suggested                                                                   
the  approach for  the working  group.  She recommended  that                                                                   
the group  could gather data  to identify the  unserved areas                                                                   
lacking broadband  connections or  where speeds and  capacity                                                                   
could  be increased.  She relayed  that in  urban areas  more                                                                   
than 97 percent  had access to 25/3 speeds  and higher versus                                                                   
64 percent in rural areas.                                                                                                      
Representative LeBon  asked what the legislature  could do to                                                                   
help encourage  the rapid  SOS upgrades  to extend  the 9-1-1                                                                   
capabilities in all of rural Alaska.                                                                                            
Ms.  O'Connor thought  coordination was  important and  could                                                                   
be  accomplished  through  an   advisory  board  made  up  of                                                                   
stakeholders  to find the  solutions to  solve the  technical                                                                   
issues. She  shared that the  9-1-1 working group  engaged in                                                                   
many hours of  problem solving work. It was  made possible by                                                                   
the  state  convening   the  group.  She  concluded   that  a                                                                   
coordinated  advisory board  would  be a  "very helpful  next                                                                   
Representative LeBon  hoped that by next year  the state made                                                                   
 tangible" progress.                                                                                                            
2:31:28 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms. O'Connor  continued with slide  26. She highlighted  that                                                                   
extended  availability  was a  goal that  required  extending                                                                   
networks.  She  made  some  recommendations.   She  suggested                                                                   
making funds  available to  support matching requirements  of                                                                   
the  next  round of  ReConnect  that  took advantage  of  the                                                                   
process  and standards  already built into  the program.  She                                                                   
proposed  offering grants  to  add connections  to the  Lower                                                                   
48,  increasing  capacity  and reducing  costs.  She  offered                                                                   
that perhaps funds  could support more speed  and capacity on                                                                   
existing  satellite and  fiber  infrastructure. She  stressed                                                                   
that  inviting feedback  was important  since every  provider                                                                   
in  Alaska has  projects on  the  drawing board  but were  on                                                                   
hold  due  to lack  of  resources.  The feedback  would  help                                                                   
policy  makers in  directing resources.  Her next  suggestion                                                                   
was to support  affordability. She commented that  Alaska had                                                                   
some "incredibly  impressive networks"  but in many  areas it                                                                   
was extremely  expensive to build  and operate  the networks,                                                                   
and  those  costs  drove  rates.  She  recommended  providing                                                                   
funds  during   an  interim   period  while  more   broadband                                                                   
infrastructure   was   deployed.   Finally,   she   suggested                                                                   
expediting  deployment. She  remarked that  a funded  project                                                                   
could  be  delayed   for  years  and  even   blocked  due  to                                                                   
permitting processes.  The state could accelerate  deployment                                                                   
through  timely  permit  approval and  reasonable  fees.  She                                                                   
deduced that  the state could  promote broadband  projects by                                                                   
eliminating  sublease surcharges  which add significantly  to                                                                   
the cost of a project.                                                                                                          
2:35:22 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor  turned  to slide  27  titled  "Congress."  She                                                                   
reported  that   there  were  consistent   discussions  about                                                                   
broadband  in   Congress.  She  was  very   optimistic  about                                                                   
President  Biden's  American  Jobs  Act  that  proposed  $100                                                                   
billion for broadband  to build future-proof networks and the                                                                 
ambitious  goal to,  "bring affordable,  reliable, high-speed                                                                 
broadband  to every American."  She believed  it would  bring                                                                   
significant infrastructure funding to Alaska.                                                                                   
Ms.  O'Connor thanked  the committee  for  the invitation  to                                                                   
testify on behalf of ATA.                                                                                                       
Representative  Edgmon  considered   some  of  Representative                                                                   
Carpenter's   comments  about   last   mile  investment.   He                                                                   
wondered if the  next phase of extending broadband  in Alaska                                                                   
was obtaining more  resources for the last mile.  He wondered                                                                   
whether it  was too  broad a statement  considering  the work                                                                   
needed   for  the   middle   mile  and   other   capabilities                                                                   
throughout the state.                                                                                                           
Ms. O'Connor responded  that it was both    it  was a chicken                                                                   
and  egg  situation.   She  reported   that  through  Connect                                                                   
America  funding  significant   resources  was  available  to                                                                   
upgrade last mile  but until the prior two  years the funding                                                                   
to  upgrade  middle  mile  was lacking.  She  noted  that  if                                                                   
either  last mile  or  middle mile  was  missing service  was                                                                   
2:38:09 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wool realized  that money  was necessary  for                                                                   
broadband  projects,  however,  the last  mile  situation  in                                                                   
many communities  "was very  real." He  asked what  the state                                                                   
could   do   to   incentivize   broadband   installation   in                                                                   
communities  where it  was not  economically feasible  "other                                                                   
than saying we need more resources."                                                                                            
Ms. O'Connor  answered that how  to enhance the  buildout was                                                                   
the  puzzle telecom  companies  wrestled  with. The  programs                                                                   
the telecom  companies  were involved with  helped bring  the                                                                   
extra  pieces necessary  to  extend service.  She  emphasized                                                                   
that  resources was  funding  and amounts  such  as the  $1.2                                                                   
billion invested  in the previous  4 years was an  example of                                                                   
funding  being received  and  "pushed  right back  out."  She                                                                   
concluded  that  the answer  was  "finding the  resource  and                                                                   
putting it where it was needed."                                                                                                
2:40:20 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Wool  relayed that in Fairbanks  many teachers                                                                   
had  to  work  from  the  school  parking  lot  during  COVID                                                                   
because they  lacked adequate  broadband to communicate  with                                                                   
the classroom.  He reported that  the legislature  had passed                                                                   
a $7  million bill that  supported internet for  rural Alaska                                                                   
[SB 74-Internet  for Schools, Chapter 5 SLA  20, 03/25/2020].                                                                   
He recalled  that in a small  rural school the  internet bill                                                                   
was approximately  $30  thousand per month.  He wondered  how                                                                   
costs  could  be trimmed  down  to  an affordable  level.  He                                                                   
wondered  about  low  orbital  satellite and  if  that  would                                                                   
alleviate the high costs.                                                                                                       
2:41:36 PM                                                                                                                    
Ms.  O'Connor replied  that the  SB 74  brought an  important                                                                   
boost  to  schools that  were  only  getting 10  megabits  or                                                                   
less. She  conveyed that  a couple  of things were  happening                                                                   
in the e-Rate  area that were lowering costs.  There was more                                                                   
competition  in  the eRate  arena.  In addition,  LEOS  would                                                                   
influence  costs. She  delineated  that  many LEOS  providers                                                                   
were expected to  enter the market. Some new  providers would                                                                   
likely sell  lower cost  capacity to  existing providers  and                                                                   
drive  prices  down  or  provide   service  directly  to  the                                                                   
Representative  Rasmussen  clarified   that  the  $7  million                                                                   
fiscal note  associated with SB  74 was the state's  share of                                                                   
a  90/10   federal/state  match   for  federal  grants.   She                                                                   
delineated  that  the  fiscal  note  was  predicated  on  all                                                                   
districts  being   awarded  grants.   The  fiscal   note  was                                                                   
expected  to decrease  as broadband  capacity increased.  She                                                                   
reiterated  that the  bill did  not offer a  full subsidy  it                                                                   
was based on a 90/10 match with the federal government.                                                                         
Representative   Carpenter   thought   that   much   of   the                                                                   
discussion  was centered  around growth  funded at the  state                                                                   
and federal level.  He was concerned with  business decisions                                                                   
at the last  mile. He shared that his neighbors  were willing                                                                   
to  pay more  for broadband,  but  it was  not available.  He                                                                   
shared  that  he  wanted  a  Digital  Subscriber  Line  (DSL)                                                                   
service and was  told that the capacity was  full. He thought                                                                   
that the  issue was  the company's decision  not to  add more                                                                   
service capacity.  He considered  that the situation  equated                                                                   
to government  owned telecommunication  services because  the                                                                   
only way  service  for the last  mile was  increased was  via                                                                   
federal  and state subsidies.  He stated  that the  companies                                                                   
were  promising  broadband  speeds   but  were  not  able  to                                                                   
deliver it  due to its business  decisions. He was   a little                                                                   
frustrated  with  the rosy  picture  being painted   and  not                                                                   
seeing  increased   service  in   his  neighborhood   due  to                                                                   
business  decisions and  not lack  of federal  money. He  was                                                                   
alarmed that the  companies were not addressing  the concerns                                                                   
of customers  that were not  receiving the service  they were                                                                   
promised.  Ms. O'Connor  responded  that  she was  unfamiliar                                                                   
with   the  representative's   neighborhood  situation.   She                                                                   
elucidated that  the problem  was there was  a finite  set of                                                                   
resources available  that were not based on  federal funding.                                                                   
Private  capital  or  cooperative members   money  was  being                                                                   
invested but was insufficient.                                                                                                  
2:47:18 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Ortiz  was  made  aware  that  the  RCA  now  had                                                                   
regulatory  authority over broadband  providers. He  wondered                                                                   
if Ms.  O'Connor saw  that as  a positive  change that  could                                                                   
assist  in making  broadband  more affordable.  Ms.  O'Connor                                                                   
answered  that the  RCA had  not yet  publicly commented  and                                                                   
was  uncertain as  to  what it  might  be contemplating.  Rep                                                                   
Ortiz  wondered   if  RCA  involvement  was  thought   of  as                                                                   
favorable  in the industry.  He inquired  whether she  viewed                                                                   
the  Regulatory  Commission  of  Alaska's  involvement  as  a                                                                   
potential  avenue  to  make broadband  more  affordable.  Ms.                                                                   
O'Connor replied  that she  was unsure  the RCA could  affect                                                                   
affordability because  the issue was cost. She  detailed that                                                                   
in some  places 88  percent of  the cost  of the service  was                                                                   
for the  middle mile  connection that  was passed through  in                                                                   
2:49:41 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Rasmussen  commented   regarding  frustration                                                                   
with  speeds in  various  neighborhoods.  She disclosed  that                                                                   
her  father had  installed fiber  in  his job  while she  was                                                                   
growing up  and that made her  uniquely aware of  the issues.                                                                   
She  suggested  that  Alaska was  the  largest  and  youngest                                                                   
state  in  the  nation  with one  of  the  lowest  population                                                                   
levels.  She stated  that  Alaska was  "way  behind where  it                                                                   
should  be" with  internet capacity.  She  opined that  state                                                                   
and private  partnerships  were necessary  to move the  state                                                                   
forward.  She  would  never condone  a  private  company  for                                                                   
making a  financially feasible  decision. She thought  Alaska                                                                   
could   be  a   leader   in  broadband   service,   utilizing                                                                   
public/private    partnerships    and    delivering    equity                                                                   
throughout the state.                                                                                                           
Co-Chair Merrick thanked Ms. O'Connor for her presentation.                                                                     
2:51:57 PM                                                                                                                    
HEIDI  TESHNER,  DIRECTOR,  FINANCE   AND  SUPPORT  SERVICES,                                                                   
DEPARTMENT   OF   EDUCATION  AND   EARLY   DEVELOPMENT   (via                                                                   
teleconference), provided  the committee with a  brief review                                                                   
of  the broadband  needs  within Alaska's  school  districts.                                                                   
She read from prepared remarks:                                                                                                 
     This afternoon  I will be providing a brief  overview of                                                                   
     the broadband  needs within  Alaska's school  districts.                                                                   
     The information  I will be speaking to is  only what the                                                                   
     department  is  aware of;  it  is not  an  all-inclusive                                                                   
     list  of  the broadband  needs  within  Alaska's  school                                                                   
     I'm  going to start  my presentation  this afternoon  by                                                                   
     speaking  briefly   to  the  Elementary   and  Secondary                                                                   
     School Emergency  Relief Funds (also known  as the ESSER                                                                   
     III Funds) under the American Rescue Plan.                                                                                 
     The  department  has been  allocated  two-thirds of  the                                                                   
     total  ESSER   III  award.  In  order  to   receive  the                                                                   
     remaining  one-third, the department  needs to  submit a                                                                   
     State  Plan.   And part  of the  state plan  development                                                                   
     requires  the department  to  gather stakeholder  input.                                                                   
     We  have conducted  a few  stakeholder webinars  earlier                                                                   
     this  week,  and  the  department  asked  attendees  the                                                                   
     question:  "What are the  biggest needs in  Alaska given                                                                   
     the  effects of the  COVID-19 pandemic  on teaching  and                                                                   
     learning?".  And to  help gather  statewide feedback  on                                                                   
     this  question, the  department is  using a tool  called                                                                   
     Thought   Exchange  (which   online   tool  to   collect                                                                   
     responses  and  gives  respondents  an  option  to  rank                                                                   
     others'  responses).  The  Thought Exchange  opened this                                                                   
     past Monday,  May 3rd, and it will close  on Sunday, May                                                                   
     16th,  at   11:59PM.    As  of  yesterday,   we  had  57                                                                   
     participants, 71 thoughts, and 510 ratings.                                                                                
     I  share  this with  you  because  so far,  the  Highest                                                                   
     ranked  theme is Internet  Connectivity.   That is  what                                                                   
     respondents are saying.                                                                                                    
     The  Highest  ranked  response  is:  "Reliable  internet                                                                   
     connectivity:   It  is   not  equitable.     There   are                                                                   
     financial,   geographic,    and   other   barriers   for                                                                   
     Other  responses  that  we   have  received  related  to                                                                   
     broadband include:                                                                                                         
     ?Internet  access in  small,  isolated, remote  villages                                                                   
     is needed  for entire villages-  so that we  can provide                                                                   
     level access to native Alaskans.                                                                                           
     ?And  consistent  and reliable  internet  access  across                                                                   
     the state  is essential.   Virtual instruction  opens up                                                                   
     an  option  for  some families,  but  without  statewide                                                                   
     internet some communities will not have access.                                                                            
     These  are just a  few of  the responses the  department                                                                   
     has  received so  far, but  it is  already evident  that                                                                   
     districts  are in  need of more  bandwidth and  internet                                                                   
     connectivity.  This  is  especially  true  if  districts                                                                   
     continue to provide remote instruction.                                                                                    
     Also,  districts are  in need of  hotspots within  their                                                                   
     district and  communities, especially outside  of school                                                                   
     locations  where students  can connect  to the  internet                                                                   
     (especially  for  when  school  is  closed  due  to  the                                                                   
     pandemic or due  to some other reason why  the school is                                                                   
     In  an effort  to see  what  information the  department                                                                   
     already  has on hand  regarding the  broadband needs  of                                                                   
     school  districts in  Alaska,  we looked  at our  FY2022                                                                   
     Major  Maintenance Grant  Fund list  to identify  if any                                                                   
     projects districts  are already thinking about  that are                                                                   
     either   fully  or   partially   related  to   broadband                                                                   
     infrastructure needs.                                                                                                      
     The  department  identified   two  projects  that  total                                                                   
     approximately $1.3 million:                                                                                                
     ?One is  a high school  security upgrades  project where                                                                   
     they  will be  installing  high-resolution cameras  with                                                                   
     remote  monitoring capabilities  around the exterior  of                                                                   
     the facility and additional network wiring.                                                                                
     ?And an electrical  and security project  at a different                                                                   
     elementary   school  in  which   part  of  the   project                                                                   
     includes data cable wiring.                                                                                                
     Districts are  already thinking about what  they can use                                                                   
     their   money   on,  or   they   can  go   through   the                                                                   
     construction  projects  list   to  see  what  could  get                                                                   
     2:56:44 PM                                                                                                               
     In addition,  the department  looked at the  budgets and                                                                   
     budget  narratives  that   districts  submitted  to  the                                                                   
     department   for  how   they  intend   to  spend   their                                                                   
     allocations  under  the federal  ESSER  I  and II  Funds                                                                   
     under  the CARES and  CRRSA Acts.  Through that  review,                                                                   
     the  department  identified   approximately  $7  million                                                                   
     worth  of  planned  broadband   and  technology  related                                                                   
     expenditures within 25 school districts.                                                                                   
     The needs vary across district,  and in scope and size.                                                                    
     Some  of these  broadband and  technology related  needs                                                                   
     that districts are planning to address include:                                                                            
     ?Increase Internet  services and bandwidth  for distance                                                                   
     learning purposes.                                                                                                         
     ?Purchase  hardware to improve  connectivity for  remote                                                                   
     and hybrid instruction.                                                                                                    
     ?Purchase  of hotspots  and  MiFi  devices for  students                                                                   
     without internet access.                                                                                                   
     ?High  speed   modems  for  home-internet   services  to                                                                   
     support   student  home   network  use  for   low-income                                                                   
     ?Purchase  of   equipment  to  upgrade   the  technology                                                                   
     ?Purchase of  a web-based VPN (virtual  private network)                                                                   
     solution for employees working from home:                                                                                  
          ?Teleconference lines.                                                                                                
          ?Video-conferencing lines/equipment.                                                                                  
     Districts  are already  planning  to use  some of  their                                                                   
     COVID  relief funds  to address  their needs.   This  is                                                                   
     not  an all-inclusive  look  at the  need,  but a  snap-                                                                   
     2:58:17 PM                                                                                                               
     One  option or recommendation  that  could be done  with                                                                   
     the $112  million, is that if  it was the desire  of the                                                                   
     committee or  legislature to provide  additional funding                                                                   
     to  school districts  for  broadband  needs, one  option                                                                   
     could be to  appropriate the funds to the  Department of                                                                   
     Education   and   Early  Development,   and   we  do   a                                                                   
     competitive  grant,  because  we  don't  know  the  full                                                                   
     need, and  then report back  to the legislature  on what                                                                   
     that is.   Again, just an  option and a policy  call for                                                                   
     the  committee to  make.   There are  options out  there                                                                   
     beyond what  they are already getting.   We already have                                                                   
     the  School  Broadband Assistance  Grants  which  allows                                                                   
     the reimbursement  to districts,  up to the 25  mbps, an                                                                   
     already  $7.8  million  program, and  FY2021  was  about                                                                   
    $6.0 million that was paid out to school districts.                                                                         
     I am available for questions but wanted to provide a                                                                       
     brief overview of what we know of as the broadband and                                                                     
     technology needs within districts.                                                                                         
2:59:34 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative   Rasmussen    asked   how    many   districts                                                                   
participated   in  the  school   bag  program.  Ms.   Teshner                                                                   
responded that 28  districts and 153 schools  were reimbursed                                                                   
through  the program.  Representative Rasmussen  asked  if it                                                                   
was  at the  25 megabit  level.  Ms. Teshner  replied in  the                                                                   
affirmative.   Representative   Rasmussen   asked  how   many                                                                   
districts  operated  above  the  25  megabit  threshold.  Ms.                                                                   
Teshner did not  have the information available.  Ms. Teshner                                                                   
would submit the information to the committee.                                                                                  
3:00:35 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Rasmussen  reminded  the committee  that  one                                                                   
way streaming  like Netflix used  3 to 5 megabits  per device                                                                   
and  a two  way  streaming activity  used  between  5 and  10                                                                   
megabits  per device.  She asserted  that broadband  capacity                                                                   
in the  state was  extremely inadequate.  She suggested  that                                                                   
Alaska  was well  below desired  speeds  especially in  rural                                                                   
3:01:37 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative Wool  recounted the information  regarding the                                                                   
legislation that  provided the matching funds  for the school                                                                   
bag  grant program.  He  stated  that the  telecom  companies                                                                   
favored  the program  in  order to  receive  the millions  of                                                                   
dollars  in subsidies  that  allowed  schools to  afford  the                                                                   
high internet rates.  He asked how much of  the grant funding                                                                   
had  been used  and  if she  could  comment  on the  internet                                                                   
rates  charged to  rural schools.  Ms. Teshner  did not  have                                                                   
the  information but  offered  to reply  later. She  reported                                                                   
that roughly  $6.1 million was  distributed to the  28 school                                                                   
districts    out   of    the    approximately   $8    million                                                                   
appropriation.  Representative Wool  assumed that the  amount                                                                   
districts needed  to pay for internet  was 9 times  what they                                                                   
requested.  Ms. Teshner  replied  that for  FY  21 the  total                                                                   
cost of broadband  for the state's schools and  libraries was                                                                   
$133 million.  She delineated  that out  of the total  amount                                                                   
almost  $110  million  was  the   eRate  contribution,  $16.8                                                                   
million was attributed  to school and library  contributions,                                                                   
$6.1  million  was  the  total  for  the  school  bag  access                                                                   
grants,  and   $111  thousand   was  from  the   Online  With                                                                   
Libraries (OWL) library assistance grants.                                                                                      
3:03:44 PM                                                                                                                    
Representative  Wool thought  there  was significant  federal                                                                   
money  flowing into  the telecommunication  companies and  he                                                                   
deduced that they  were greatly profiting from  it. He deemed                                                                   
that  the  telecom   companies  were  hesitant   to  take  on                                                                   
projects  that   were  not  as  financially   lucrative  like                                                                   
installing  highspeed broadband  in some urban  neighborhoods                                                                   
and  in  rural   areas.  He  hoped  the  inequity   could  be                                                                   
addressed.  He emphasized  that tens of  millions of  dollars                                                                   
were obtainable,  and the resources were available.  He hoped                                                                   
the  connectivity  as  described in  the  presentation  would                                                                   
continue in all areas of the state.                                                                                             
Co-Chair  Merrick  thanked  Ms.  Teshner  for  being  at  the                                                                   
HB  70   was  HEARD  and   HELD  in  committee   for  further                                                                   
Co-Chair  Merrick indicated  amendments  for HB  19, HB  155,                                                                   
and HB 182 were due the prior day and none were received.                                                                       
3:05:10 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
3:07:02 PM                                                                                                                    
HOUSE BILL NO. 19                                                                                                             
     "An Act relating to instruction in a language other                                                                        
     than English; and establishing limited language                                                                            
     immersion teacher certificates."                                                                                           
3:07:09 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Ortiz  MOVED  to   report  CSHB  19(EDC)  out  of                                                                   
Committee   with    individual   recommendations    and   the                                                                   
accompanying fiscal note.                                                                                                       
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
CSHB  19(EDC) was  REPORTED out  of committee  with five  "do                                                                   
pass"    recommendations    and     four    "no    recommend"                                                                   
recommendations  and  with one  previously  published  fiscal                                                                   
impact note: FN1(EED).                                                                                                          
HOUSE BILL NO. 182                                                                                                            
     "An  Act  extending  the fishery  resource  landing  tax                                                                   
     credit  for  certain  taxpayers   that  harvest  fishery                                                                   
     resources   under   the   provisions  of   a   community                                                                   
     development  quota; providing for  an effective  date by                                                                   
     amending  the effective  date of  secs. 16  and 23,  ch.                                                                   
    61, SLA 2014; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
3:07:48 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Ortiz MOVED  to report  HB 182  out of  Committee                                                                   
with individual  recommendations and the  accompanying fiscal                                                                   
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
HB  182  was REPORTED  out  of  committee  with a  "do  pass"                                                                   
recommendation  and  with  one  previously  published  fiscal                                                                   
impact note: FN1(REV).                                                                                                          
HOUSE BILL NO. 155                                                                                                              
     "An  Act   relating  to  court-appointed   visitors  and                                                                   
     experts;  relating  to  the  powers and  duties  of  the                                                                   
     office of  public advocacy;  relating to the  powers and                                                                   
     duties  of the Alaska  Court System;  and providing  for                                                                   
     an effective date."                                                                                                        
3:08:29 PM                                                                                                                    
Vice-Chair  Ortiz MOVED  to report  HB 155  out of  Committee                                                                   
with individual  recommendations and the  accompanying fiscal                                                                   
There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                                                                                    
HB  155  was REPORTED  out  of  committee  with a  "do  pass"                                                                   
recommendation  and  with  two  previously  published  fiscal                                                                   
impact notes: FN1(ADM) and FN2(AJS).                                                                                            
3:09:10 PM                                                                                                                    
AT EASE                                                                                                                         
3:12:27 PM                                                                                                                    
Co-Chair Merrick reviewed the agenda for the following                                                                          
morning meeting.                                                                                                                
3:12:39 PM                                                                                                                    
The meeting was adjourned at 3:12 p.m.                                                                                          

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 70 HFIN Capital State of Broadband 2021 - ATA 5-6-2021.pdf HFIN 5/6/2021 1:30:00 PM
HB 70