Thursday, August 30, 2007

FTTT - Fiber to the Tundra

Fiber optic projects in the works

COMPETITION: GCI, ACS reveal network expansion plans.

Two rival telecom companies based in Anchorage are launching multimillion-dollar fiber-optic projects this year.

General Communication Inc. officials announced Wednesday that they plan to build a $30 million fiber-optic network in Southeast Alaska, connecting Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Angoon and Sitka, and laying a second GCI fiber link to Juneau.

In April, Alaska Communications Systems announced its own fiber optic project, linking Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, with startup costs of $75 million to $90 million. This month, ACS launched a marine survey to find potential routes between Anchorage and Kenai Peninsula, progressing south to the Panhandle, and terminating somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

GCI's project could be completed in November 2008, and ACS's project would be finished in early 2009, according to the companies.

GCI already owns two of the three fiber-optic networks linking Alaska to the Lower 48. As yet, ACS doesn't own a fiber-optic network running from Alaska to the Lower 48.

Fiber-optic cables can carry enormous volumes of long-distance phone, Internet and other data traffic. Fiber cables were laid across the globe in the 1990s, contributing to the rapid growth of Internet use since then.

Residents in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka and Angoon do not have access to a fiber-optic network, according to GCI. The new fiber-optic link to the small Southeast towns will speed up their Internet connections, increase the number of cable and HD TV cable stations available, and reduce outages, said GCI public affairs specialist Sydney Morgan.

GCI is working on getting state and federal permits, as well as a Federal Communications Commission license, for its project.

In late July, ACS officials told their investors that fiber optic to the Lower 48 will make the company more competitive.

1 comment:

Jeri said...

Hate to be a nitpicker - and as a former Alaskan and a GCI employee I am excited about this - but the fiber goes nowhere near the tundra. Southeast Alaska is the rainbelt - the tundra is a couple thousand miles north, in the inland interior.

It's a catchy title though. :)