January 12, 2012 |

Internet rates raise questions

Alaska Power and Telphone is currently marketing 8MB of Internet speed to folks for $160/month. Currently in the community, the largest block of folks (approximately 500) are paying $50/month and receiving a mere 256K of Internet speed. From folks paying for the 256K speed, that totals $1600 to AP&T for the same total 8MB of speed. To put it another way, folks paying for 256K service at $50/month are paying ten times the rate per unit of speed than those who are able to afford the highest Internet speed rate.

If folks paying $50/month were to have their speed increased to 1MB/month, AP&T would still be receiving $400/month for that 8MB of speed from these folks compared to the $160 they receive from folks able to pay more per month. For many people, $50/month for Internet service is already a huge stretch in their budget.

What are the barriers to AP&T modifying their service rates and speeds to better serve the community? A flick of the switch in the AP&T office? Other? Is it time for the Alaska Public Regulatory Commission to start regulating Internet service as they do phone and electrical service? In today’s environment, affordable high-speed Internet service is a necessity for commerce and communications.

Kathleen Menke