Max Fibre

Subsea fiber optic connection could transform Alaska’s Arctic future

At the close of the Civil War, the Western Union Telegraph Company cut 15,000 telegraph poles in Russia and North America and explored 6,000 miles as part of the first great telecommunications project in
But the well-financed project to link New York to European capitals via the Bering Strait, which started two years before the purchase from Russia, was the gas pipeline of its
Construction never happened because in 1866 Cyrus Field finally succeeded in doing the impossible: installing a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable that worked, sending eight words a minute across the
A century and a half later, the Bering Strait may yet become the crossing point for an international connection if an ambitious three-phase telecommunications project becomes a
The first phase is taking shape now, as upwards of 450 people are expected to be deployed between Nome and Prudhoe Bay within weeks, installing 1,176 miles of cable and on-shore connections, bringing high-speed data facilities to Nome, Kotzebue, Point Hope, Wainwright, Barrow and Prudhoe
It will be “one very short, complex Arctic summer” for the Quintillion project, with operations taking place simultaneously across hundreds of miles on land and sea, said Elizabeth Pierce, the CEO of Quintillion Subsea Operations based in
“Everything’s built, most of it’s arrived in Alaska, we have more vessels arriving now,” she told those who gathered this week in the Barrow High School gym for a two-day meeting on broadband and related development issues for northern Alaska.
The investors in the project, which include a private equity fund as well as the Arctic Slope Regional Corp., say that the Alaska phase will stand on its own but they hope that connections to Europe and Japan will follow in the years ahead.

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