Alaska’s claims to fame are many and varied. It’s home to rugged natural areas, eight national parks, gorgeous glaciers, the Northern Lights, a booming oil and gas industry, seafood and just over 730,000 people. When it comes to home internet, however, there’s a bit less to celebrate. Alaska comes in dead last in Ookla’s Speedtest.net ranking of internet speeds for the 50 states (and Washington, DC).
Despite the state’s shortcomings, there’s still decent internet in the Last Frontier. GCI is CNET’s pick for the best internet service provider in Alaska, thanks to top speeds of 2.5 gigabits per second and the widest (and still growing) availability of any wired provider in the state. CNET examines customer service, speed, pricing and overall value before recommending the best broadband in your area.
Almost any choice of internet provider in Alaska will come with some compromises, whether in speed, price or reliability. Rural residents often have to choose between satellite, fixed wireless or DSL connections, with satellite as the only viable option for some. While the broadband scene may sound a little bleak, there are reasons for optimism as over $1 billion in federal funding is pouring into the state to improve internet access in underserved communities.
Finally, all prices listed on this page reflect available discounts for setting up paperless billing. If you decide not to go with automatic monthly payments, your price will be higher.
Best internet options in Alaska
Most Alaska homes are covered by cable or DSL services, with GCI and Alaska Communications as notable providers. Satellite internet is a top option for remote locations with no other connections. Starlink’s potential for good top speeds gives it an edge.
Note: The prices, speeds and features detailed in the article text may differ from those listed in the product detail cards, representing providers’ national offerings. Your internet service options — including prices and speeds — depend on your address and may differ from those detailed here.
Rural internet options in Alaska
|Provider||Connection type||Price range||Speed range||Data cap||Availability|
|Borealis Broadband||Fixed wireless||$40-$170||3-30Mbps||1TB||Anchorage, Eagle River|
|Bristol Bay Communications Group||DSL||$30-$300||512Kbps-10Mbps||Varies||Bristol Bay area|
|Bush-Tell||DSL||$40-$230||512Kbps-6Mbps||Varies up to 100GB||Grayling, Holy Cross, Kalskag, Stony River areas|
|Cordova Telecom Cooperative||DSL||$40-$123||8-100Mbps||None||Cordova area|
|Mountain Beam||Fixed wireless||Varies/$33-$164||8-40Mbps||None||Fairbanks area|
|MTA||DSL||$70-$180||Varies||250GB or unlimited||Anderson, Wasilla, Talkeetna, Palmer, Eagle River|
|SpitwSpots||Fixed wireless||$90-$200||10-150Mbps||None||Anchor Point, Soldotna and Fairbanks areas|
Show more (3 items)
Source: CNET analysis of provider data
Many rural Alaska ISPs have roots in long-time telephone cooperatives that have evolved to offer internet services. That’s why DSL is a common option from these local companies. The infrastructure was already in place to offer the service. That’s the positive. There are some drawbacks with legacy DSL networks, like slower top speeds than you would get with cable or fiber. However, DSL can be serviceable when there are few other options.
GCI, our pick for the top ISP in Alaska, has been working on ambitious network expansions into rural areas. GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project will bring high-speed connections to the Aleutian, Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island communities. This represents a tremendous upgrade for residents getting by with slower options like satellite. GCI has six expansion projects in the works to reach 26 rural communities and over 25,000 residents.
Local ISPs like Mountain Beam and Borealis Broadband offer fixed wireless internet. This requires a good line of sight to a tower to work well. Top-end speeds can be expensive in Alaska. Borealis Broadband, for example, runs $170 a month for 30Mbps service. Here’s how fixed wireless compares to other types of internet connections.
It’s worth comparing fixed wireless plans with satellite plans. Starlink, Viasat and HughesNet provide coverage in Alaska. While satellite is widely available, even in very remote locations, it can be expensive and slow. Starlink’s service offers some advantages with the potential for higher top speeds. It doesn’t require a contract, but the initial $599 equipment fee can be tough to swallow. Starlink allows new customers a trial period so you can see if the service works for you.
Alaska broadband details at a glance
The US government’s Internet for All site says 13% of Alaska’s population lives where high-speed internet is unavailable. FCC data suggests that just over 93% of residents can access broadband speeds, defined as at least 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up. However, that number includes the reach of satellite internet, which isn’t a great solution for everyone due to expense or lack of a clear view of the sky.
The story of fiber in Alaska is pretty slim at the moment. The FCC shows only about 6% of residents can access fiber. If we look at gig speeds and higher, that drops to just 4.5%. What little fiber access there is tends to be focused on more populated areas. There are some unexpected pockets of fiber, though. Local ISP Copper Valley Telecom services Valdez, a city of under 4,000 people, with speeds up to 1,000Mbps. Fiber is always at the top of home internet wish lists, but Alaska’s terrain and remote areas make it a challenging place to build extensive fiber networks.
How fast is broadband in Alaska?
Fast internet can be hard to come by in the Last Frontier. About 75% of Alaska homes can access internet speeds of at least 100Mbps, according to the FCC. Move up to 250Mbps, and that dips to 68%. At the gig level, it’s a mere 4.5%. Ookla’s recent Speedtest ranking finds Alaska at the bottom of the state speeds list with a median download speed of about 86Mbps. The US overall is at 207Mbps. That’s quite a difference.
Ookla lists GCI as Alaska’s fastest provider, with a respectable median download speed of 250Mbps. If fast internet is a must for you and you’re moving to Alaska, you’ll want to do some homework about where to land. Your best bet for gig speeds will be in the bigger cities. Recent Ookla city-level data showed Anchorage with a median fixed internet download speed of 197Mbps, Fairbanks was 132Mbps, and Juneau logged 80Mbps. Those numbers can change over time.
With limited options, switching to a faster provider is not always feasible. You can make the most of your internet connection by following these steps to speed up your Wi-Fi.
Internet pricing in Alaska
You won’t find bargain basement prices on internet service in Alaska. Many of the services that come in on the cheap side in the contiguous 48 states aren’t available in the northern state. That means no bundling bargains with the likes of 5G home internet service from Verizon 5G Home Internet or T-Mobile Home Internet. If your monthly internet bill is under $100 for a decent speed level, then you’re doing pretty well in Alaska. GCI and Alaska Communications have plans for under a hundred, but speeds will vary based on location and the type of internet connection.
Internet for low-income households in Alaska
The federal Affordable Connectivity Program can be an internet lifeline for qualified low-income households. The ACP lets recipients knock $30 ($75 on tribal lands) off their monthly bill. Most ISPs participate, and some have special plans just for ACP customers. One of Alaska’s biggest providers, GCI, offers a free, entry-level tier for ACP recipients.
Future of broadband in Alaska
Alaska poses a lot of challenges to the expansion of high-speed and affordable broadband. The terrain can be unforgiving, the weather can be extreme and many communities are in remote areas. It takes a lot of funding to expand broadband under those conditions. Fortunately, the federal Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program dedicates just over $1 billion to tackling the challenge. This doesn’t mean instant change, but it puts the state in a strong position to reach unserved and underserved communities long overlooked.
While fiber connections are scarce in the state, that will be changing for some residents. Cordova Telecom Cooperative announced in August it would be installing a submarine fiber optic cable from Cordova to Juneau to deliver fiber to Pelican, Yakutat, Gustavus and Hoonah. The project could take five years to complete. Alaska will also receive $100 million in US Department of Agriculture funding to build out fiber (and some wireless) internet in the Bethel, Yukon-Kuskokwim, Kusilvak and Hoonah-Angoon areas. GCI’s work to bring fiber-based wired connections to remote communities is notable. Regarding improving broadband, Alaska has nowhere to go but up.
Internet in Alaska FAQs