JUNEAU, Alaska, November 03, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–On October 31, 2022, AP&T Wireless (AP&T), a subsidiary of Alaska Power & Telephone, successfully completed the installation of the SEALink submarine fiber optic cable system, providing the Prince of Wales Island its very first fiber optic link to mainland North America and the world. The submarine cable is a central component of a regional fiber deployment project funded by a $21.5 million grant from the USDA Rural Utilities Service ReConnect program and approximately $7 million in private investment provided by AP&T. From 2023, AP&T will install fiber and provide service to homes in the Prince of Wales communities of Coffman Cove and Kasaan.
SEALink travels from Coffman Cove to southern Mitkof Island, where it makes landfall near an Alaska State ferry terminal. From there, the newly constructed land transport fiber runs north along the Mitkof Highway to the city of Petersburg. There the cable re-enters the water, running north through Frederick Sound and Stephens Passage to land at Lena Point near Juneau, where several options exist for transportation to the lower 48 states.
“I have consistently worked to drive progress in infrastructure development to help Alaskans, especially with respect to connectivity. I have urged the USDA to support the installation of the SEALink Undersea Cable System “, which is finally coming to fruition. This new tranche will allow Prince of Wales a direct cable connection to the continental United States for the first time in history – a truly significant milestone,” said Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Alaskans are versatile and resilient and have found ways to adapt to the lack of basic needs that many Americans may take for granted, but even so, they deserve access to quality broadband. Thank you the many Alaskans who helped make this project a reality and I can’t wait to see the positive impacts it will have on business, education, healthcare and more.”
“Access to reliable high-speed internet can change the life of a community, improve the delivery of health care and education, and open doors for small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Senator Dan Sullivan. “I’ve always said that Alaska is a resource-rich state but infrastructure-poor, and the same goes for broadband, which is 21st century infrastructure. I’m glad to see the partnership between the federal grants from the USDA and private investment from Alaska Power & Telephone to complete this historic SEALink fiber project and connect communities on Prince of Wales Island.This project will help bridge the digital divide and improve lives and the well-being of hundreds of Alaskans in the southeast.
The submarine cable was manufactured by Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke of Nordenham, Germany (a subsidiary of Prysmian Group), and installed by International Telecom using its vessel, the CS IT Intrepid, a highly specialized cable laying vessel . Rock-N-Road Construction — a woman-owned small business in Petersburg, Alaska — has built beach landing sites in the communities of Coffman Cove and Petersburg, as well as south of Mitkof Island . AP&T line crews built 17 miles of airline fiber. Directional drilling contractor Tundra Utility Construction has installed over 9 miles of fiber underground. AP&T expects SEALink to be fully operational in March 2023, after the electronics are installed.
Prince of Wales Island is 2,577 square miles, slightly larger than the state of Delaware. Until now, the island’s approximately 6,000 residents have relied solely on the microwave links at the top of the mountains for the transport of telecommunications data, which has limited the levels of service possible. Maintenance of mountaintop sites depends on helicopter access and refueling operations, and is challenged by extreme weather conditions such as high winds and icing. The SEALink cable system will improve local internet speeds, affordability and reliability for Prince of Wales residents for decades to come. AP&T will also use the network to improve the services it provides to other communities and support the operations of other service providers in the region.
“Access to high-speed Internet connectivity is crucial, especially in rural Alaska,” said US Representative Mary Peltola. “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how important broadband is to our daily lives. From remote employment to telehealth, Alaskans depend on this essential infrastructure to live, work and play. I am extremely grateful for the work Alaska Power & Telephone has put in place, continuing to strengthen broadband connectivity in our state.”
AP&T is currently completing detailed engineering designs, undertaking environmental/permitting work and ordering materials and equipment for fiber construction at Craig, Klawock and Hollis, which is expected to take place between 2024 and 2027. AP&T is also requesting an additional grant of the USDA. funds to build the fiber at premises in Thorne Bay, Whale Pass and Hydaburg, with a target completion date of 2028. AP&T hopes to know the result in the first quarter of 2023.
Alaska Power & Telephone Company (OTC: APTL) is an employee- and investor-owned utility that provides various utilities in more than 40 rural Alaska communities. Additional information about AP&T is available at: www.aptalaska.com
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Jason Custer, Vice President – Business Development
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