When Alaska’s Democratic Rep. Mary Peltola hosts First Lady Jill Biden in a historic trip to Bethel Alaska, the focus will be on expanding access to high-speed internet as a primary means of addressing the area’s health and educational problems.

While Peltola’s hometown faces a host of difficult social issues, she has trumpeted the fact that the May 17 visit by Biden will be centered around highlighting the various ways that the Biden administration is working to expand broadband internet access across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Peltola and Biden will also address other, unspecified priorities in rural Alaska.

In a statement about the upcoming visit, Peltola said she was “proud we have a First Lady who is a real advocate for education and health care access.”

“These are issues that affect every Alaskan and every American,” Peltola added. “I am glad that she has chosen to visit Bethel to see firsthand our unique way of life in Western Alaska. I want this to be an opportunity to demonstrate some of the challenges faced by rural communities in our state — challenges that aren’t well understood in the Lower 48.”

Whether bringing faster internet to rural Alaska is the primary key to addressing the area’s high rates of violent crime, rape and aggravated assault, as well as dire educational outcomes and persistent substance abuse problems remains to be seen.

If the most popular internet sites in the U.S. are any indication, high speed internet in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area will likely see many more residents Googling information, watching YouTube videos, spending much more time on social media, accessing increasing amounts of porn, sports, movies and news, and ordering more items from Amazon. On average, Americans are now spending about eight and a half hours a day on the internet.

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First Lady’s headed to Bethel to tout high-speed internet as key to prosperity

Joel Davidson
Joel is Editor-in-Chief of the Alaska Watchman. Joel is an award winning journalist and has been reporting for over 24 years, He is a proud father of 8 children, and lives in Palmer, Alaska.