About the ATN

The ATN – A Tribally governed solution for solving the middle and last mile challenges to provide “Broadband For All” in Alaska now and forever.

Step 1—Acquire 2.5 GHz Last Mile Radio Frequencies from FCC

Can be used to enable a wireless last mile to rural communities throughout Alaska.

Step 2—Build the Last Mile ATN

Apply grant funding to implement last mile 2.5GHz ATN design in ATN-equipped villages across Alaska.

Step 3—Provide an Affordable Middle Mile

Combine infrastructure grant funding with subsidies to provide new near-term satellite middle mile to every village on the ATN across Alaska.

Step One—Acquire Statewide 2.5 GHz Last Mile Radio Frequencies from FCC

Can be used to enable a wireless last mile to rural communities throughout Alaska

ATS recently applied for significant grant funding to provide wireless last mile in every ATS member community. The ATN concept was made possible when Alaska Tribal entities took advantage of an opportunity by the FCC to reserve 2.5 GHz radio spectrum in Alaska. ATS played a significant role in that success. Nearly the entire state is now covered by ATS members and other Tribes who applied for spectrum. This means that if we all work together, we can create a statewide Alaska Tribal Network that is Tribally governed. We can deploy wireless networks in every community in Alaska and provide affordable modern broadband.

This means that if we all work together, we can create a statewide Alaska Tribal Network (ATN) that is totally Tribally governed. We can deploy wireless networks in every community in Alaska and provide affordable modern broadband. These last mile wireless networks will connect to any available middle mile— new satellite, fiber, or microwave to fiber. As less expensive middle mile becomes available in your village, the ATN will use it to drive subscriber prices down.

Step Two—Build the ATN last mile

Apply grant funding to implement the last mile 2.5GHz ATN design in villages across Alaska.

For most of rural Alaska, fiber isn’t coming anytime soon. In the meantime, these communities continue to suffer with expensive unreliable internet service. Step two—Building the ATN last mile prepares all of these rural communities to be able to distribute middle mile broadband when it becomes available. The ATN model offers an efficient and standardized way to support future connections to distribute service everywhere in their community. When an inexpensive middle mile becomes available, an ATN-equipped community can immediately take advantage.

ATS has recently applied for available funding from the NTIA and other federal agencies as a large multi-member Tribal organization to equip as many of its rural member communities in Alaska with certified standards-based designs and equipment as possible. The grant will also fund implementation partners that are capable of installing the last mile equipment. ATS has chosen to work with OptimERA who has built a network that and serves nearly 10,000 people with fixed wireless, dedicated internet, and LTE service in Unalasaka. The technology and business concept of the ATN was created for ATS by Optimera. Their proven standards-based technology suite and expertise in hardened Alaskan environments makes them a perfect choice to manage the ATN and other technology partners. The ATN design continues to evolve, but initially it is focused on providing fixed wireless to satisfy current grant application requirements. The core LTE design also is forward looking and will be extensible to add mobility services in the future over the same initial network installations. By joining ATS, any community can participate and be included in ATS funding requests. This ATN approach brings a wealth of benefits to every Tribal community that participates.

But to make the vision of affordable broadband a reality for rural Alaska, we need to connect these Step 2 last mile networks to an affordable middle mile. The only solution in any near term for rural Alaska is to also apply for grant funding to buy capacity on upcoming LEO and GEO satellites.

That brings us to step three.

Step Three—Provide an Affordable Middle Mile

Combine infrastructure grant funding with subsidies to provide new near-term satellite middle mile to every rural village on the ATN across Alaska.

The ATS mission is not only to create robust wireless last mile ATN-enabled communities, but to also reduce the cost of middle mile everywhere in Alaska, including locations where 60,000 rural Alaskans are completely unserved. Unless the broadband is affordable everywhere over the ATN, there is no need for a last mile network because there will be no subscriber traffic on it. Tribal spectrum won’t be used, and the Tribes won’t get any significant revenue. When the ATN last mile networks connect to affordable broadband, this maximizes the value of your spectrum because there will be numerous subscribers and heavy usage.

In fact, the ATN will also attract fiber investment sooner for your community. When a community already has a thriving customer base when you apply for fiber connection funding, with a last mile wireless network in place that will easily connect to it, it greatly improves their chances for successful funding.

Every ATS application for last mile wireless solutions will also be applying for many years of middle mile satellite subsidies.

By joining ATS you are extending the reach of everyone’s 2.5 GHz coverage area into one large Alaska Tribal Network (ATN). This means as ATS members, we can act as one large consortium to ask for grant assistance. It also means that as a collective we have the ability to buy enough capacity together to acquire enough satellite subsidy for every rural community for many years across the state. Every Tribe applying individually cannot accomplish this, but together as one voice, in one large multi-member application, we can.

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Become a member of ATS

Benefits of being part of the ATN

Benefits include Tribal revenue, better equipment pricing, and more for your community.

Benefits of being a member of ATS

Benefits include Tribal revenue, being a part of the ATN, chances for additional revenue, and more.

ATN Conceptual Model—Learn more below

Alaska Tribal Network Participants and Roles

The ATN offers an inclusive win-win model for everyone.

The diagram above describes the basic roles and flow of data, and revenue for the ATN in a community. This is a subset of a much more detailed concept paper. Read on for more information about each role.

Spectrum Asset Owners (SAO)

These are the ATS managed member Tribes who own the spectrum and let ATS manage it for their benefit. It also represents the role for ATS charter and associate members that receive revenue for spectrum use in their Tribal areas.

In order to be on the ATN, a Tribe must be an associate or charter member or have a spectrum management agreement with ATS or be a managed member of ATS. All data that runs over this spectrum generates income by default for the individual ATS member Tribes. Data can also roam over the network from other large providers and the SAOs will generate income.

Spectrum owners are paid by ATS based on data usage in their spectrum holding area. A Tracking Area Code (TAC) is used as a differentiating mark. A spectrum owner may have more than 1 TAC associated with their ownership.

Each shape file submitted during the tribal priority filing window, will be equal to a Spectrum Asset Owner Account (SAO) on the Alaska Tribal Network (ATN). Contained in each of those SAOs will be sub groups that are defined as Tracking Area Codes (TACs). TACs are used to both determine rate of recovery and generate data detail records (DDRs) for SAOs to be paid.

Network Access Owner (NAO)

NAOs own the network equipment in each community. These are most likely established providers in your community that own equipment (e.g. towers) for the community to use, however the Tribe could also choose to be an NAO if they have the capability to manage and maintain the equipment per ATN requirements. A NAO on the ATN will earn income on the data from all VSPs who are using the network over that equipment. ATS is seeking funding to purchase discounted equipment for the Tribes who may consider becoming NAOs, or ATS can serve as the NAO. 

Network Access Owners are automatically paid for the operation of the equipment by assessing the data that passes through the equipment they deploy on the network. This model creates incentive to keep network elements online. NAOs use equipment that conforms to a set of standards determined by the network policy adopted at the ATS. A network access device (NAD) is preconfigured to automatically connect to the ATN.

Virtual Service Provider (VSP)

Community members pick their Service Providers from a list of ATN-certified providers (ATS is not an ISP, nor will it be, but ATS will maintain the standards of service for all VSPs that serve the network.) that are capable and approved to offer service in your community. We refer to them as Virtual Service Providers (VSPs) because they are riding on the ATN and offer broadband packages that are delivered over the network to subscribers. 

Virtual Service Providers can be existing providers in the community or new providers. VSPs will have the primary customer relationships and sell packages for internet or phone service of their design, and bill their subscribers (SUB) that receive their service. VSPs purchase wholesale access from ATS based on a transparent set of areas they select. They supply level one support for their customers. Everything else on the ATN can be provided for them. Usage is tracked and provided to them via the Cloud Core Node. VSPs and certain services may require integration with the network to which APIs will be made available for providers to integrate. 

An ATS member Tribe can choose to be a VSP if they desire and have the capability to meet ATN requirements and high-quality standards to be a VSP. Tribes make all choices to participate at whatever level they decide. They have the right to be a provider of service, an owner of network equipment, both, or neither.

Cloud Core Node (CCN)

Cloud Core Nodes run applications for network functions and create cloud infrastructure for VSPs to leverage through APIs. CCNs are compensated based on the traffic that passes on the node, similar to how the NAOs are compensated.  a rate of recovery is determined using quantifiable metrics taken from the performance of the CCNs. Example metrics may be (location in the network, response time for applications, external services offered, power costs directly associated with the operation of the CCN, system load, uptime,etc.).

The rate of recovery for operation of the CCNs will be governed by ATS and paid to OptimERA. The CCN will be owned by the ATS who will collect the recovery rate.  CCNs will be managed by Optimera to provide monitoring, management, maintenance (MMM) and authorization, access and accounting (AAA). The CCN controls the network and requires transparency of its functions and operation. Additionally, In order to ensure the best possible level of service  and to develop against the system, a single entity will be responsible for its function.

Alaska Tribal Spectrum (ATS)

ATS, as a multi-member organization of many Tribes across the State, will provide funding for the ATN through grants that will be used to provide last mile wireless networks in its member communities. These networks will be compatible with ATN standards and be certified as compatible with the overall ATN roadmap to not preclude future mobility capabilities. ATS will also work to acquire funding for advanced LEO and/or GEO satellite middle mile capacity that will be used by providers in its member communities. This combination will bring affordable broadband that will be used over the member Tribe’s 2.5 GHz spectrum and produce revenue as well. 

Initially grant funding will secure and launch and build out of the ATN. After the initial funding mechanism is used to build the network ATS will collect access charges from VSPs paying for backhaul and access to the network to deliver services. ATS bills VSPs for the usage that their customers have on the network and for basic access fees. ATS will distribute the funding to all other ATN roles as determined by the policies managed by the ATS Policy Board.

Middle Mile Providers  (MMP)

Middle mile service will be managed by OptimERA on behalf of the network. MMPs can elect to be paid based on a standard capacity arrangement or by participating in the data tracking system.

Subscribers

Subscribers (Customers) on the ATN pay VSPs for service. Because the system is wireless and built on a mobile capable platform, a user can move anywhere in the network and keep their connection so long as their  VSP offers that service in the TAC. Customers can join the network with any device that takes a sim card and works with Band 41, the corresponding LTE band of the Tribal 2.5GHz spectrum. Most mobile handsets support this band and many wireless broadband equipment vendors do as well. The ATS network is built to allow the widest range of devices possible to maximize choice for the consumer, however. VSPs may require certain types of equipment depending on packaging.

Who owns the ATN?

No one. The Alaska Tribal Network is a concept that brings together many entities who follow the ATN guidelines for operation. ATS manages the ATN operations for the maximum benefit of all Tribes, and the network policies of the ATN are managed by the ATS Policy Board—made up of representatives elected by ATS member Tribes.

ATS will publish network requirements, and our network operations partner OptimERA will certify manufacturers of ATN-compatible equipment, and prequalify firms as ATN-certified providers that the Tribes can choose to work with. Funding to buy equipment and do installations will be provided through grants to ATS and used to buildout its member communities. To participate on the Alaska Tribal Network, current spectrum owners can join ATS as a managed member. Tribes can also buy their own equipment and be paid as NAOs as they desire.

 

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