From July 13th - 14th, Barrow, Alaska hosted the first "Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit" aimed at discussing finding solutions for establishing pan-Arctic broadband Internet access.
The event was organized and hosted by the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) and its telecommunications working group, along with the Iñuit Arctic Business Alliance (IABA) and the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (ASRC), and with the support of Alaska Communications, NxtVn Group, and GCI Communications.
With policymakers, tech industry experts, and executives from the business sector in attendance, the conference also examined how to get ready for opportunities and challenges extended broadband access will bring to the region. Currently, broadband access in many parts of the North American Arctic is very limited and unreliable. Stakeholders hope to change this in the next few years.
Nearly 40 presenters hailing from Alaska and other parts of the US as well as Canada and Europe came to the small Alaska town to deliver presentations focused on projects aiming to imrpove broadband access in the more remote parts of the Arctic, such as the Quintillion Subsea Cable Project (a multi-year project already underway that will lay a cable from Japan to the UK via the North American Arctic and deliver broadband access to coastal communities in the North American Arctic). Other topcis addressed at the event included using satellite technology to compliment subsea fibre optic broadband, what government’s role should be in connecting the Arctic to broadband, and what private investors are looking for in projects in the far North.
AEC Chairwoman Tara Sweeney was happy with the large turnout for the event, and is "pleased that industry leaders are committed to helping" Arctic residents find solutions to having access to high quality broadband.
Photos, videos, and an agenda for the event are available on the AEC website.