In order to stay on schedule, Kristina Woolston, Quintillion’s Vice President of External Relations, says they will have three vessels in Alaskan waters this summer to install 40 more miles of fiber, which wasn’t completed last year.
“(It’s) because we needed more time to get the desired burial depth that we needed off of Prudhoe Bay and Oliktok Point,” Woolston said. “So, that one critical piece is what we have left to install this summer, but the rest of the fiber that is currently installed is up and running and in test mode, so we’re able to see all of the connections and how the signals are moving. So, we are monitoring that 24/7 right now, even into the community of Nome, and we are very pleased with what we are seeing for the performance.”
It is expected that none of the three vessels will be coming to Nome’s waters this summer, but Woolston says there is still a chance. After all the connections are made between the sea-based cable and the land-based cable, Woolston says the testing phase will then have to continue.
“Once the cable — the fiber — is installed, then, we have to do a series of interconnections and splices with the existing fiber,” Woolston said. “Then our customers, the telecommunications providers, then they need to do their interconnections with our system, to make sure the equipment is speaking to each other. And then, yes, the signal goes live.”
Fiber between Fairbanks and Deadhorse has been up and running since April, which is the initial connection for the rest of the coastal communities included in Quintillion’s project. Besides Nome, land-based fiber connections are present in Kotzebue, Utqiagvik, Wainwright, Point Hope, and Prudhoe Bay.
When asked if there would be any new telecommunications providers coming to Nome and contracting with Quintillion to provide faster internet to customers, Woolston could not give specifics.
“I think you’ll start to see more information being provided to the end users as the summer goes on and the fall comes into play, and we move closer to that ‘turning on the service’ date of December 1,” Woolston said.
Quintillion is also looking to expand its network to other communities in the state; however, it is unclear at this time as to which ones.