Tlingit and Haida plans to hire local tech to help with wireless internet

Tlingit and Haida is looking to have someone on staff to help with installations and customer service when it starts up its pilot broadband network in Wrangell this fall.

The Central Council is advertising for a “digital literacy specialist” and installation technician in Wrangell, said Chris Cropley, network architect at Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska on March 29.

The wireless internet service in Wrangell will be the Central Council’s first in Southeast.

The position is advertised at $29.59 to $37.75 per hour, depending on experience. On-the-job training will be provided.

The technician will set up equipment at homes to tap into Tidal Network, a federally funded internet service the tribe is in the process of setting up after the FCC granted it a broadband license last December.

A Wi-Fi device will go inside the residence, and a Nokia FastMile 4G receiver will attach to the outside of a home to pick up the signal. That equipment is arriving in the same shipment as mobile cell towers on order from Pierson Wireless in Omaha, Nebraska.

The cell towers and equipment should arrive in Wrangell next month and will be stored until the network can be set up in the fall.

While Wrangell’s build-out is covered by federal funding already secured, Cropley said the Central Council has not yet heard back on a federal grant request of $50 million from the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which could cover a further build-out across more of Southeast, providing 32 towers in 22 different communities. It is expecting to hear back this spring.

Wrangell is the pilot location for the network, aimed at providing high-speed internet access to rural communities that are underserved or unserved.

The Wrangell technician will not be the only one, “ideally Prince of Wales will have one, and Sitka and elsewhere,” Cropley said. Those positions would possibly be funded by the next federal grant.

Cropley said Central Council has a comfortable lead time on hiring for the position, since the receivers can’t be installed until the towers arrive, and are installed this fall.


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