What are the benefits of being an Alaska Tribal Network (ATN) community?
Your ATN community will connect to any middle mile (i.e. satellite or fiber) now or in the future to bring the fastest possible speeds. Your Tribal 2.5 GHz spectrum will be used to create wireless 4G/5G capabilities for true mobility. Instead of just connecting specific buildings, this means you will be able to receive cell phone service and broadband data over your phone anywhere in the community served by the wireless signal.
Your Tribe will generate income when spectrum is used in your community. You give up no rights of ownership to anything to be on the ATN. There are no fees to have the ATN in your community. Your Tribe will not have any responsibilities to manage or maintain the network, yet it will receive all of the benefits. There is no cost to join ATS, and you can choose to be included when ATS applies for future broadband-related grant funding to create or expand the ATN in your community.
ATN Benefits for Your ATS Member Community
1. Tribal Revenue
Primary Tribal ATN Revenue Role
Spectrum Asset Owners (SAOs)
Each member Tribe will get paid as an SAO proportionately for ATN data that flows over the 2.5 GHz Tribal spectrum in their communities.
When the ATN is built in an ATS member community, the Tribe will earn micro payments in proportion to the amount of data flowing over the spectrum. Higher data usage will result in larger Tribal revenue. Therefore, it is likely that larger communities will generate larger payments, but all members will earn in proportion to what is actually used. If you are not already an ATS member, and you have a license for 2.5 GHz spectrum, you have the opportunity to join ATS as a managed member. Managed members will own their spectrum, but ATS will manage it for their benefit through a spectrum management services agreement with ATS. As an ATS member, this will also allow managed members to earn revenue when data flows over their spectrum.
Data can also roam over the network from other large providers that may use the ATN. When they do, the Tribal SAOs will generate income.
Optional Roles for Tribal ATN Revenue Generation
Network Access Owners (NAOs)
NAOs own the network equipment in the community
Each ATS member Tribe can choose to have no management or operational responsibility for the ATN. They can just choose to receive quality cell phone and broadband data service from the VSPs who use the ATN to deliver service. Some Tribes may wish to participate as NAOs and own the network equipment in their community if they have the capability to manage and maintain the equipment per ATN requirements. An NAO on the ATN will earn income on the data from all VSPs who are using the network over that equipment.
Virtual Service Providers (VSPs)
VSPs offer the internet or phone service over the ATN in your community and bill the subscribers for different packages. When the ATN is initialized there will be one or more VSPs offering service immediately. More may be added over time.
If they desire, an ATS member Tribe may also choose to be a VSP if they have the capability to perform to ATN requirements and meet the high quality standards to be a VSP. We refer to providers on the ATN as “virtual providers” because they do not own the network themselves. The funding used to build the network directly benefits the member tribes, and the equipment is owned and governed by non profit tribal interests – not the for profit service providers.
In the ATN scenario, 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.
Installing the network equipment in the community
If a Tribe has resources to take on the installation of the ATN network by following ATN installation requirements, they can participate. ATS will manage a list of ATN-qualified installers who will be capable to install the last mile networks using ATS grant funding, or your own funding in your community.
2. The ATN connects to any available middle mile
3. The ATN enables affordable broadband everywhere in Alaska
Leveraging new satellite capabilities to deliver broadband to rural Alaska NOW
The reality is that in rural Alaska, approximately 60,000 people have no access to the gold standard fiber middle mile and they won’t anytime in the near future. The ATS mission to realize a statewide ATN must serve everyone with affordable broadband, and the only way to do it for the unserved is to buy down and deliver inexpensive new satellite capabilities.
New satellites can deliver a very satisfying consumer solution in rural Alaska. There are two types: Geostationary High Throughput satellites (GEO – HTS) and Low Earth Orbit satellites (LEO) from OneWeb and Starlink. Combining HTS GEO with new LEO technology could provide affordable broadband to every underserved (Tribal) community last mile wireless network in Alaska in the very near future. It can also enable current generations to have broadband while they await the time and expense of getting fiber somewhere down the road.
Also, affordable broadband = more broadband usage, and more broadband usage = more Tribal income as more data flows over the ATN.
4. FCC 2.5 GHz spectrum "Buildout" requirements are addressed for your community
Your Tribe does not need to be concerned with any FCC reporting requirements.
ATS will use its best efforts to seek funding for member community buildouts. FCC-required reporting will be done by Alaska Tribal Spectrum with the FCC. Your Tribe has no reporting requirements of any kind. ATS will communicate license related updates and status in a timely manner.
5. Broadband on your phone everywhere in your community
Mobility and E911 in your community
There are many wireless network solutions that only offer broadband to the home with no plans for future mobility over wireless. Choosing a solution that just solves broadband now, which will require refactoring in the future to provide mobility, is not an ideal choice. The ATN, however, represents a forward-looking design that plans for future mobility now. It is not meant to just deliver broadband to your home. Let’s face it, you can’t take a wire with you when you leave your house, but on the last mile wireless ATN network, your entire community is energized, not just your home.
The ATN design offers an array of possible equipment configurations that will work for future mobility and broadband over your normal phone. The ATN broadband network equipment selections can be made from a slate of compatible choices and different manufacturers. These manufacturers have been vetted as capable providers to support a future wireless 5G-capable LTE phone network that can use the same 2.5 GHz spectrum you already have. This means E911 over your cell phone can be enabled everywhere in your community. Future mobility also means that when people roam in any community in Alaska that is on the ATN, the ATN spectrum owner in that community is paid when the internet is accessed by that phone.
6. Tribal Network Management
Each ATS member Tribe has a voice in the management of the ATN.
ATS has a Policy Board that is made up of member Tribal representatives from across the state. The Policy Board maintains and amends the ATN policies for the maximum benefit of all ATN connected communities which are all ATS members. The Tribes determine their own destiny on the network.
7. Digital Equity plans
The ATN is the enabling framework for Digital Equity for all ATN communities.
Fundamentally, the ATN will close the Digital Divide for rural Alaska, which will open the floodgates that speak to the opportunity, access, knowledge, and skill for broadband.
Instead of just focusing on how to install affordable broadband capabilities, Digital Equity also needs to include 1) internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user; 2) equal access for all community citizens no matter what their economic or physical limitations; 3) access to digital literacy training; 4) quality technical support; and 5) applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency.
ATS is working with many of its communities to create Digital Equity plans. ATS will coordinate with the State of Alaska and upcoming BEAD funding opportunities to create and fund effective Digital Equity Plans.
The ATN opens up possibilities and connection for rural Tribal communities to participate in opportunities the rest of the US takes for granted. In these times, affordable broadband access is as essential as water, power, and electricity. The ATN makes it possible.
8. Better equipment pricing for all communities
A larger collective buy means we all save.
We all understand better pricing is available when we buy in bulk. ATN community providers can pick from a standardized list of ATN-compatible equipment at discounted prices that will ensure broadband and future mobility compatibility over ATS-managed spectrum.
9. Unified best practices and standardized training and support
Pooling of knowledge and resources benefits all of us
Creating standardized policies for network operations is the job of the ATS Policy Board. Collective technical management and operation of the physical statewide ATN will be contracted by ATS to its Network operations partner OptimERA xG. They will carry out the policies of the ATS Policy board to ensure standards and a high quality of service are maintained for network service delivery.
The ATN will be a standards-based open architecture for maximum interoperability. The network design was adapted from proven Alaska infrastructure deployments. Installation vendors will be certified to ensure standards are being met to operate in our unique Alaskan environments. If something needs attention, technicians in one area will be familiar with the equipment no matter where they are dispatched in Alaska. Each community will have tech support provided by local technicians as well as regional overlap. Pooling of resources using standardized equipment and best practices saves time and money for all members.
10. There are no Tribal requirements for network equipment maintenance
Network equipment upkeep and management will be maintained by the Network Access Owners (NAOs) to a standard required for top quality service. Unless the Tribe contracts to be the NAO, the Tribe need not provide any expertise or be responsible for any upkeep.
Technical training/job skill training opportunities with local Virtual Service Providers (VSPs) for Tribal members will be offered by the VSPs.