Fiber optic cable proposed for Upper Lynn Canal

Faster Internet might be on the horizon for the Upper Lynn Canal.

Alaska Power and Telephone is proposing laying a submarine fiber optic cable from Juneau to Haines and Skagway. The company has filed an application with the state for an easement for laying the cable on the seafloor. It would follow an existing underwater cable and run about 86 miles. It would come ashore at the same place the existing cable does in Haines, near Lutak Inlet.

In Skagway, the proposed landing site for the cable is causing more discussion. The company wants to bring the fiber optic cable ashore at Smuggler’s Cove in order to avoid work planned at the harbor for the Gateway Project. But some in the community are questioning whether a utility use is allowed at the Smuggler’s Cove area.

AP&T manager Darren Belisle in Skagway says more details on the project will be released next week. He says it’s unclear right now of the timeline for the project.

Fiber optic cable would greatly increase Internet bandwidth capabilities for Skagway and Haines, although Belisle says it’s unclear right now when that increased capability might be made available to customers. But, he says the current system used to provide Internet service through AP&T, called the Southeast Alaska Microwave Network, could be maxed out in three to five years. Belisle says fiber optics provides essentially unlimited capability.

It’s also possible the Yukon and Whitehorse will want to tie into the fiber optics capability on the Skagway side.

Internet capability is an issue especially during the summer in Skagway. With sometimes 10,000 or more cruise ship passengers a day, the network in Skagway easily gets overloaded.

We’ll have more on this story in the coming weeks as AP&T provides more information.

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