AP&T Celebrates Completion of Lynn Canal Fiber Optic Line

This past Friday, October 21, Alaska Power & Telephone Company (AP&T) celebrated its completion of the Lynn Canal Fiber Optic Cable Project at the Traditional Council Building in Skagway.

This special event was held to commemorate a new milestone in infrastructure and telecommunications development between Juneau, Skagway and Haines; bringing together various representatives from municipal, legislative and First Nations officials from the communities of Skagway, Haines, Juneau, Klukwan, Whitehorse, and Carcross.

The Upper Lynn Canal Undersea Fiber project was initiated primarily to bring faster and more reliable internet to northern Alaskan communities, and also as a foundation platform to increase economic development to the regions along the Upper Lynn Canal.  Until now, Haines and Skagway had been connected via a microwave communications link to Juneau, and they in turn are connected to the outside world through large undersea fiber optic cables.

It is also worth noting that this design is an important first step to providing an alternative international fiber optic interconnection with Yukon Territory. As most residents throughout the Yukon are no doubt aware, the sole fiber optic line in the Yukon; running from Whitehorse, through Watson Lake, Fort Nelson and finally connecting at Dawson creek has been subject to multiple breaks in recent years (up to three times this past summer alone). Development of this new Lynn Canal Fiber Optic Cable proposes unique opportunities to improve redundancy, as well as increasing reliability and stability to businesses, educational services and residential internet and telecommunications services across the Yukon Territory.

As a privately-owned and operated company, AP&T representatives were understandably excited to be able to announce their completion of this ambitious project after years of development. As such, they invited a diverse range of representatives including Haines, AK Mayor Jan Hill and her local Klukwan Chilkat Dancers, who put on quite a show, with each dance in their set having distinct cultural significance and historical meanings.

Skagway mayor Mark Shaefer opened with an introductory keynote speech, quoting the poet Langston Hughes, stating “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.” He elaborated that this project began merely as a dream of a select few, whose dedication and ambitions to make the benefits of this project a reality saw it through to completion. He then went on to introduce state senator Dennis Egan, who also had some words to say on the subject.

With a chuckle, senator Egan admitted to not having an early 20th century poet to quote, though he would make an effort to try and match the quality of the speech. At his age of 69, he gave a heartfelt speech detailing the miracles that technology have achieved in his lifetime, and the unprecedented leaps in inter-connectivity the world has developed through the invention of the internet. As a benchmark to elaborate on this, he stated that not too long ago, the only resource to find specific information was an encyclopedia at the public library. Now, the entire wealth of information the world has to offer could be found on the phone you carried around in your pocket. This is the beauty of technology at this stage, and why improving it and maintaining it is more essential than ever.

With the ever expanding demand that the internet has in our culture, be it through streaming data, downloading programs, video and conference calling or just plain old email; developing faster and more reliable connections has never been in more demand. As most of us well know, reliable and secure connectivity has always been hard to achieve for the north, whether it be simply maintaining a stable connection or the downright expensive data limits imposed by our isolation. Through innovative improvements in our telecommunications infrastructure (like this latest LCF project) and hopefully more in the near future for the Yukon, we can slowly but surely improve upon that to bring us up to speed (literally) with the rest of the world.

Attendees mingle at Lynn Canal Fiber Optic link Celebration

Attendees mingle at the Skagway Traditional Council Building to celebrate the completion of the Lynn Canal Fiber Optic Link.

 

Article by YFP field reporter Cameron Buchan.

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