In February 2020, Ventera’s EVP of Government Services, Jeff Smith, received a call from a friend, Kevin Hamer, who, along with his wife, Sharon, had started a Tribally Owned Organization. One of their projects was to bring broadband internet to the Akiak Native Community (ANC), a federally recognized tribe in Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD), the second-largest unserved area in America. Kevin was seeking Jeff’s advice on Federal Grants and funding options.
True to Ventera’s community and collaborative values, Jeff saw ways to help beyond funding advice and enlisted fellow EVP of Business Solutions Chris Ford, who has extensive communications experience. Together, they assembled a team to identify funding opportunities as well as a technical solution.
The proposal, with Ventera as a subcontractor, was to utilize Low Earth Orbit Satellite fixed wireless, a new broadband model that has recently become available in Alaska, that would leverage the tribe’s 2.5GHz spectrum license to provide broadband fixed wireless to every household—a historic feat for any YKD tribe. The Akiak Tribe leadership and community accepted the recommendation and subsequently set aside any available grant monies to fund the endeavor.
Akiak Technology is expected to finish the installation by the end of 2021, officially making the ANC the first village in the YKD to have access to broadband internet. Furthermore, by building on this momentum, Akiak Technology led the way to form the Yukon-Kushkokwim Delta Tribal Broadband Consortium to support implementation throughout this area. This new consortium will be seeking millions of dollars from newly available NTIA grant monies to achieve its goals of broadband for communities across the region.
This success story embodies what it means to be a part of Ventera as a team member and a partner. Our networks and sense of community laid the groundwork for a cross-country, multi-organization endeavor that served those in need, improved the lives of many, and demonstrated the power of collaborative problem solving and a commitment to excellence.