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OptimERA teams up with seafood industry to provide internet service to Ukrainian employees

Courtesy Helena Buurman
Alaska Volcano Observatory

OptimERA Inc. is currently working with Trident Seafoods to provide subsidized internet connectivity to employees from Ukraine. While the program started in Akutan, OptimERA is looking to expand to employers in Unalaska. KUCB talked with Emmett Fitch, CEO of OptimERA, Inc.

Emmett Fitch: We provide telecommunication services in Unalaska and Akutan. OptimERA actually started in Unalaska in 2005. I went to school and got a degree in applied math, I wanted to go back to school and get my Master's degree in electrical engineering. I was born and raised here, I wanted to work here during the summers and go back to school. But in order to get into the program I needed to have access to the internet. I didn't have access to the internet, or at that time it was it was too slow to keep up with the online courses. So, I thought, “I should do something about this.” Sixteen years later I'm still here doing the same thing. Right now, we provide Wi-Fi hotspot service throughout Unalaska and Akutan. We deliver dedicated internet connections, we have a couple technical services that we provide around town. And then we will be launching LTE service here in the next few days.

KUCB: So we're having this conversation 20 days after Russia invaded Ukraine and I recently heard about a program that OptimERA is providing to residents of Ukraine who are working here in the Aleutians.

Fitch: As I was saying, we provide service over in Akutan. We work with Trident Seafoods to get their employees access to communications while they're over there. [Trident] had reached out saying, “is there anything that we can do to help the folks from Ukraine that are likely to be stuck here for a while? What can we do?” So we worked on coming up with a plan that would allow them to stay connected, make it a little bit easier. The internet encompasses every aspect of our lives. Every service that you can imagine, every communications platform runs across the internet today. The internet in Ukraine right now is more reliable than the phone service.

It's not every day that you get to do something for somebody else, and when the opportunity presented itself, of course, we jumped all over it. We try to be a very community-centered company. Our approach to providing communication services is that we are in service to you. We provide communications, as opposed to being a communication service provider. So we try to we try to stand behind that.

KUCB: Do you have any estimate of how many individuals you're serving with this program so far?

Fitch: There are just over 100 folks from Ukraine over in Akutan right now. We also want to extend this same invitation to the to the businesses and processing plants here in Unalaska: if they have anybody from Ukraine that needs to be able to get in touch, if there's a way that we can work with them to make it a little bit easier, we want to do that.

We don't know what the future holds. But we know we can do this right now.

KUCB: Great. Anything else you would like to add on that topic?

Fitch: Just giving another shout out to any of the facilities out there right now that have employees from Ukraine, get a hold of us so that we can help you help your employees because it's important for us, it's important for this town.

You can contact OptimERA, Inc. at 907-581-4983 or