I know that Alaska is a huge track of land. I know that intellectually and from my two previous trips to the state. I know that there are limited road systems and that the ferry is the fastest way to head to different parts of the state. I know that driving around Anchorage is just a dot on the map. I know that when planning an adventure to Denali after each of NTCA’s Regional Conferences in Alaska, I am always struck by how long that trip takes, and yet I have not made it to the middle of the state. And, I know from working closely with many of NTCA member telcos in Alaska that they have their own sense of honor for serving the last frontier. But even armed with all of that intellectual knowledge about the state, my breath was still taken away when I walked into the office of Senator Dan Sullivan, the newest senator from the state, and saw the huge map on his office wall with not only a map of the state but also the map of Rhode Island overlaid onto the map. Granted, Rhode Island is a tiny state in its own regard, but the overlay barely covered the size of the Matsu Valley, a mere dent in the vastness of the state.
There is rural, there is remote … and then there is Alaska! NTCA has 15 member companies in this grand state, and we are looking forward to being in their part of the world for our upcoming Regional Conference in August. I am hopeful that Senator Sullivan, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, will be able to drop by to welcome our group to the spectacular state and that we can continue some of the productive talks we’ve been having on USF reform and telemedicine applications for returning American vets, a topic near and dear to the senator’s heart, given his own military background.