NCTA Documentary Depicts Broadband Deployment Challenges

The documentary follows three ISP crews in hard-to-reach, rural areas of the U.S.

NCTA Documentary Depicts Broadband Deployment Challenges
Photo of Alaska from the NCTA film provided by NCTA

July 1, 2024 – Trade association NCTA – the Internet & Television Association on Wednesday premiered a documentary depicting the physical and legal barriers to connecting rural America to high-speed internet.

The documentary, Every Last Mile: The Untold Story of Connecting Rural America, shows the demanding conditions telecommunication workers experience when laying broadband networks in the most remote areas of the U.S

“Few have seen just how daunting that work can be," said Michael Powell, president & CEO of NCTA. 

The 20 minute documentary follows an internet service provider GCI crew in King Cove, Alaska; a Mediacom Communications crew in Lakewood Township, Minnesota and a Cox Communications crew in Congress, Arizona.

Broadband workers in Arizona show how, “skilled teams can overcome challenges, including the oppressive heat and hostile desert geography." said Mark Greatrex, president of Cox Communications. The Arizona workers experienced more hardships than just the 118 degree weather, they also ran into problems with obtaining permits from federal and state governments. 

Broadband expansion work in King Cove, a small town “only accessible by air and sea, is representative of the many challenges internet service providers face when extending networks across Alaska," said Jenifer Nelson, GCI Rural Affairs Senior Director.

Nelson added that this is one reason Alaska is ranked last in broadband connectivity by the Federal Communications Commission. The workers here overcame, “extreme fog and high winds to laying over 800 miles of subsea fiber."

Steve Purcell, Group Vice President of Mediacom's Capital Region said, “Mediacom and its employees have to connect rural communities in north Minnesota and all across the Midwest”. This is not a small feat when faced with Minnesota winters that hinder broadband work, he said.

Correction: A previously version of this article misstated the date on which the film was released. It was Wednesday, not Tuesday. The story has been corrected.

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