Alaska internet providers get redundant

  • By IAN FOLEY
  • Monday, March 30, 2015 10:30pm
  • News

The redundant cable systems used by Alaska Internet service providers are more than an added bonus for their customers.

While not required by law, Internet service providers in the state have chosen to make their systems redundant in order to avoid a situation similar to that which occurred last month in Arizona.

Vandals cut a fiber-optic cable north of Phoenix that resulted in a nearly 15-hour Internet blackout across much of the state last month.

A similar outage is unlikely to occur in Alaska, because Internet service providers in the state have backup systems, said GCI spokesman David Morris. Alaska’s urban areas, including much of the Kenai Peninsula, are connected through a fiber-optic ring, meaning if there were a break in a cable, service could continue uninterrupted due to the information being sent on a different route.

“You need to have two different routes,” Morris said.

GCI connected Alaska to Seattle with the fiber-optic cable system in 1999. According to GCI’s website, the $125 million system contains more than 2,300 miles of cable. Morris said that since the initial leg of the fiber-optic cable ring was completed, the company has continually improved and expanded it.

ACS, another Alaska Internet service provider, also has a redundant fiber-optic system that connects Alaska to the Lower 48. Part of the system, the Alaska-Oregon Network known as AKORN, was constructed in 2009 and connects Alaska to Oregon by undersea cables. ACS’s other fiber-optic line, the Northstar cable system, complements the AKORN cable to provide reliability.

“The AKORN fiber-optic network provides geographic diversity from other networks and redundancy in case of unforeseen circumstances or natural disaster,” according to the ACS website.

Morris said one reason a company wouldn’t have a backup system is that they have just completed the first leg of a ring, and have yet to finish the second.

Aside from providing better reliability, the expansion of the fiber-optic cables allow for more communities to have high-speed Internet.

The percentage of Alaskans without access to high speed Internet is significantly higher than the national average. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 38 percent of Alaskans currently don’t have access, compared to only 16 percent of people nationwide.

There are other ways to provide Internet where the redundant ring systems aren’t available in Alaska. Satellite systems serve as backup to ensure service in more rural parts of the state, Morris said.

While Alaska hasn’t seen any acts of vandalism as impactful as the recent Arizona events, there have been smaller incidents. Morris said in the past, people have been known to shoot at the above ground infrastructure.

Aside from deliberate acts of sabotage, the infrastructure has also been subject to accidents.

“The vast majority is going to be a contractor, backhoe, or a car running into (infrastructure),” Morris said.

Autumn is the season when GCI gets most concerned about accidents. Morris said contractors can get careless when they are in a hurry to finish projects before winter, which can cause an accident. Despite the occasional damage, he said Alaska’s redundant systems are impressive.

“For us to a have more (sophisticated system) than many parts of the Lower 48 speaks highly of the companies in Alaska,” he said.

 

Reach Ian Foley at ian.foley@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

Trees with fall colors populate the Shqui Tsatnu Creek gully as seen from Fourth Avenue on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai to use $770k in grants to remove hazard trees along Shqui Tsatnu Creek

The money will be used to mitigate hazards caused by dead and dying spruce trees over more than 100 acres of city land

Alaska state Rep. David Eastman, a Wasilla Republican, is shown seated on the House floor on April 29, 2022, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
Alaska judge keeps Oath Keepers lawmaker on November ballot

Judge Jack McKenna on Thursday ordered elections officials to delay certifying the result of that particular race

An image purportedly from the computer screen of a digital media specialist for Gov. Mike Dunleavy shows numerous files and folders of campaign advertising. A complaint filed against the governor, plus other individuals and organizations, claims administrative staff is illegally doing paid campaign work on behalf of the governor. (Screenshot from complaint filed with the Alaska Public Offices Commission)
Dunleavy faces more accusations in campaign complaint

Governor calls it “specious and unfounded.”

A recent photo of Anesha "Duffy" Murnane, missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
A 2019 photo of Anesha “Duffy” Murnane, who went missing since Oct. 17, 2019, in Homer. (Photo provided, Homer Police Department)
Calderwood indicted for murder

Indictment charges man accused of killing Anesha “Duffy” Murnane with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.

Triumvirate Theatre is seen on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Nikiski, Alaska. The building burned in a fire on Feb. 20 of that year. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai council gives Triumvirate more time to build theater

The Kenai City Council voted last summer to conditionally donate a 2-acre parcel of city land near Daubenspeck Park and the Kenai Walmart

Leaves fall at the Kenai Senior Center on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Senior Center makes plans for $715,000 endowment

The money comes from the Tamara Diane Cone Testamentary Trust

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
On Thursday morning at what police described as an active crime scene, JPD Officer Austin Thomas and Officer Taylor Davis walk the fielded area which was blocked off by crime scene tape. Multiple tents and a police vehicle sat in the field where the tape surrounded, another police vehicle sat in a dirt parking area.
No arrests made as Juneau death investigation continues

Shortly before 4 p.m. Wednesday that a woman’s body was found

Damage from the remnants of typhoon Merbok can be seen in Golovin, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2022. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has requested a federal disaster declaration for areas in western Alaska affected by the storm. (Photo by Jeremy Cubas/Office of the Governor)
Damage from the remnants of typhoon Merbok can be seen in Golovin, Alaska, on Sept. 20, 2022. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy has requested a federal disaster declaration for areas in western Alaska affected by the storm. (Photo by Jeremy Cubas/Office of the Governor)
Repair work begins in some Alaska towns slammed by storm

About 21,000 people living along a 1,000-mile stretch of Alaska’s western coast were affected by the storm

Camille Broussard testifies in support of an advisory planning commission in Nikiski during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly approves advisory planning commission for Nikiski

The commission area as petitioned and approved covers just over 3.5 million acres

Most Read