You might think your old DSL connection was slow, but it’s still probably a whole lot faster than the internet connections that reach many of the residents of the Alaskan North Slope and Bering Sea coastline. These folks are still stuck with near dial-up speeds from satellite providers that are prone to latency and connectivity issues. In recent years, this lack of reliable broadband access has hampered economic development, education and healthcare in the region.
Before too long, however, more than 26,500 Alaska residents will be connected to the rest of the world by a 1 Gbps fiber optic network. The project is called the “Quintillion Sub-Sea Cable System,” and it’s expected to reach 6 villages in Alaska by mid-2017.
The first phase of the project will focus on connecting northern Alaska with the country’s lower 48 states. Phase two and three will connect Japan and London to the network via 15,000 km of undersea cable. This will not only dramatically improve connectivity to the arctic, but also act as a backup connection to Europe and Asia in case undersea cables connected to the East Coast of North America are compromised.
The project has been delayed a number of times since it was first announced in 2013, but now it’s finally about to become a reality. Residents in Alaska are understandably excited about the new opportunities that will be afforded by Gigabit Internet speeds. Healthcare facilities in particular are looking forward to being able to communicate with doctors around the globe and provide improved care for patients.
Once this massive undertaking is complete, we’ll be one step closer to living in a connected, cooperative world.