Cell service concerns in Mat Su

ANCHORAGE (KTUU)- Causing a concern for some Alaskans in remote areas of the Mat-Su,
Matanuska Telephone Association (M.T.A.) is planning on discontinuing Basic Exchange Telecommunications Radio Service (BETRS).

Matanuska-Susitna resident, Craig Saunders, said wireless M.T.A.'s fixed wireless services is the only provider that has worked in his remote area.

"We are talking peoples livelihoods, but people are going to be left without a source to call for help if someone gets injured. It's a real serious health risk," said Saunders.

Jackie Kenshalo, with M.T.A. Community, and Public Affairs, said the technology is outdated and is forcing the service to shut down.

"Competitively it was tough to compete. So we had the business decision to exit that means the fixed wireless in addition to the wireless was them to make the transition away from that," said Kenshalo.

Kenshalo, said there are other options for service. The company said, customers have been given a six-month notice and a $400 stipend to help find alternative options.

George Hays, Deputy Borough Manager, said Mat-Su officials are worried those remote areas could be blacked-out from cell phone service, which have only been accessible from M.T.A's fixed wireless services.

"The biggest problem why the Borough got involved is we could not find out if this coverage map would correlate to our coverage map where all the cabins are," said Hays.

The Mat-Su Borough has requested a year-long extension of M.T.A.'s services and an affirmation that coverage is accessible to alternative providers from the Federal Communications Commission.

June 1st, 2018 is the planned date for M.T.A to discontinue fixed wireless services.

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