The 2007 US Census showed almost three quarters of households had internet service, the second highest level in the country. A high proportion of these had a broadband service. Nevertheless, August 2009 figures produced by the Communication Workers of America showed an average download speed of 2.3 mbps, putting the state at the bottom of the performance league. Almost half reported a download speed below 768 kbps through their internet provider, less than the basic level for broadband internet services.
The high level of connectivity and low performance can be put down to the state's remoteness. As of August 2009, a reported 174,240 Alaskans over 18 had a Facebook page, more than one third of the adult population. Most people are connecting to websites in the lower 48 states of the US.
Attempts are being made to address the problem by building fiber optic cable networks. A $50 million 1,554-mile cable to connect Seward to Warrenton, Oregon was commenced in June 2003, complementing the existing cable between Whittier and Seattle and the Alaska United cable linking Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau to Seattle. The Alaska Oregon Network, a $175 million undersea cable, began operation in April 2009 and there is a plan to run cables to rural communities using riverbeds. This gives the prospect of a high speed service as internet providers make it available.
With the low availability of DSL, many rural and small communities rely on dial-up and satellite links. ACS was the first ISP to offer wireless internet access through its 3G network and Alaska Airlines has been testing wifi, with plans to launch a fleet-wide service in 2010.
With the largest land area of any state and a population of 686,293 at 1 July 2008, Alaska is the most sparsely populated state. It has a coastline that is longer than all the other states combined and is separate from the rest of the United States mainland ('the Lower 48').
The economy is dominated by the oil and gas industries, other outputs being mainly seafood, precious metals and timber. Employment is largely in government and the extraction and transportation of natural resources. Almost half of the state's population lives in Anchorage. The only other towns with a population over 10,000 are College, Fairbanks, Juneau (the state capital) and Wasilla.
Cities in Alaska likely to have, or soon to receive, fiber optic cable internet services include Anchorage, College, Fairbanks, Juneau and Wasilla. Locations in AK with highest population counts will be targeted first by providers, though relatively high speeds can be achieved with dial-up or DSL through companies such as Netzero and Charter Communications Cable.