Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) and United Utilities Inc (UUI) today announced a technology agreement to bring broadband technology to 65 rural communities in southwest Alaska. UUI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alaska's largest telecommunications provider, GCI. Through the construction of a microwave network, broadband speeds will be made available to people and businesses that currently rely only on satellite connectivity.
The TERRA-Southwest project is building a next-generation communications network connecting rural communities in southwest Alaska. Upon completion, TERRA-Southwest will serve more than 9,000 households and nearly 750 businesses in the covered communities. The project will also serve numerous public/non-profit/private community anchor institutions, such as regional health-care providers, school districts and other regional and Alaska Native organizations.
"Ericsson envisions a Networked Society where everything that benefits from a connection will be connected. A key piece of making that vision a reality is the availability of broadband connectivity for everyone, no matter where they live," said Angel Ruiz, Head of Ericsson North America. "Innovative programs like TERRA-Southwest are making it possible, using Ericsson's advanced microwave technology to connect people and businesses anywhere in the country."
This is the largest long-haul microwave contract for Ericsson in North America. Initial deployments started this month.
"The goal of GCI and UUI has long been to provide the underserved citizens of remote rural Alaskan communities the benefits of broadband technology to improve the quality of their lives," said Martin Cary, Vice President and General Manager of GCI Managed Broadband Services. "Our selection of Ericsson to provide the critical technology for the TERRA-Southwest project takes us one step closer to providing the first-ever terrestrial high-speed connection to southwest Alaska."
TERRA-Southwest is a jointly funded project with $44 million coming from the USDA Rural Utilities Service and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $44 million in the form of a loan to UUI/GCI.
According to the terms of the five-year contract, Ericsson will be the sole microwave equipment supplier for the project.