Cell phones (redux)


August 5, 2021

At the risk of sounding like a nag, I feel compelled, once again, to raise the specter of the dangers Haines faces by not having a working Borough-wide cell phone network. A repeat of last year’s slide disaster, neighborhoods cut off from contact with rescuers, EMT/fire/power/water/road repair services, the anxiety of not knowing the status of family, friends and neighbors, has not receded. Secondly, long-term economic impact – personal and business – relying on yesterday’s moribund landline/low bandwidth technology only cripples development and increases difficulty conducting normal affairs in an almost entirely cellular world. The good news : NOW is probably the best opportunity we will have in the foreseeable future to rectify these deficiencies and tap into the funding to resolve our communication insufficiency. Federal infrastructure renewal legislation specifically includes provisions for broadband expansion. Senator Murkowski has committed to Alaska to seek access to these funds. This opportunity to secure funding for a modern communication network may not occur again. We cannot afford to back-shelve this problem and postpone action for an indefinite “sometime”. The Mayor and Assembly, tribal leaders, service providers and citizens must step up NOW: research options, craft a work plan, get the attention of state legislators, media stories, hold community forums, find grant-writers, write grants, etc. Move - before our chances evaporate with the next budget/policy shift. Share these concerns?

Talk it up, contact community decision-makers, think about the implications of another slide season, left behind in the dust of the digital juggernaut. Nag … a little.

Drew Degen


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