Residents, businesses, schools, healthcare clinics and other organisations in parts of Alaska can access city-wide WiFi and broadband services as always despite increased network demand due to the recent “Stay at Home” rule thanks to OptimERA Inc. significantly expanding its network capacity with SES Networks. The Alaskan Internet Service Provider (ISP) leveraged SES’s NSS-9 satellite increased C-band capacity and ramped up its networks within days, underscoring the agility of SES’s satellite services to rapidly address dynamic connectivity needs nearly anywhere in the world, SES has announced.
OptimERA serves the city of Unalaska and its surrounding towns and islands, including world-famous Dutch Harbor, the largest fishing port in the United States. Located in the Aleutian Islands, Unalaska has the largest full-time resident population in Southwest Alaska as well as many seasonal and part-time residents due to the fishing industry. OptimERA started working with SES Networks in 2017 to provide backbone capacity so the ISP could serve the residents and businesses of this remote location that is 800 miles from the nearest fibre-based network.
After Alaska’s governor issued “stay at home” guidance to address the COVID-19 crisis at the start of April, OptimERA recognised the significant impact it would have on the residents and businesses of this remote community who would suddenly be working from home or unable to go to school or visit local healthcare providers. It would also dramatically change the volume of traffic on its network.
“Once the governor issued the stay at home order, we got on the phone with SES Networks to discuss increasing our network capacity. We wanted the flexibility to creatively support our community, including lifting any data caps for students, teachers and healthcare workers as well offering a discounted rate to people and businesses not already connected so they can work remotely,” said Emmett Fitch, CEO at OptimERA. “With the whole world impacted by this crisis and our daily routines affected as well, we feel it is even more acute in remote and rural areas so we wanted to quickly step up to the plate for our community so that we all are connected beyond our houses.”
The additional capacity provided to OptimERA has enabled people in Unalaska to take advantage of online resources to stay connected with work, students and teachers to work on distance learning programs, and patients to do video calls with the healthcare staff at the local clinic to discuss symptoms or issues they are experiencing, which is especially critical now with COVID-19.
“Now more than ever, networks are playing a key role in seamlessly connecting us to the people and content we need the most, whether it’s a student asking a teacher a question, a patient talking to a healthcare provider about symptoms, a worker collaborating on a project or simply video calling a friend or family,” said Omar Trujillo, Vice President of Sales, Fixed Data, Americas at SES Networks. “We are glad that we are able to provide this additional connectivity service to OptimERA and their customers in such a short time and be the reliable connectivity provider they are in need of.”