I arrived in Old Harbor on the eastern side of Kodiak after a bumpy flight through the snowy mountain passes. The houses perched over the sea looked beautiful in the morning sun. I noticed right away that the houses were missing a telltale sign of poor Internet service, an array of satellite dishes mounted on the homes so commonly seen in the other villages.
Old Harbor Native Corporation owns a subsidiary company here in Kodiak called Kodiak Microwave Service (KMS.) KMS has built a microwave network to service the villages of Kodiak. The most recent addition to the network was the tower in Larsen Bay that was built last fall. The towers are used to serve internet to the rural health clinics to conduct telemedicine and serve DSL to the consumer market. The tower in Old Harbor supplies consumer DSL to the village through Alaska Communication Systems (ACS) and allows the community to have the best Internet service, to my knowledge, of any of the other villages. ACS has service plans available to the village that have no data caps and the Internet is even fast enough to stream video.
In Old Harbor, the needs are dramatically different than the other villages due to the high-quality connection. The Tribe has developed a plan to enhance their media center to a new larger location in their building and offer their Internet service to the community. Access has helped to develop the skills with the younger people of the village they then are able to help the other less confident and commonly older community members. This model of apprenticeship among people in the villages is common. The Alutiiq Online Chromebooks donated to the tribe by the Alutiiq Museum will enhance the media center and help people in the village have access to the hardware needed to access the Internet and the Alutiiq cultural resources available online.