Alaska is now connected to the “lower 48” states as the first overland fiber-optic cable was completed by a Matanuska Telephone Association (MTA) subsidiary. The 480-mile project, which began in April 2019, was a collaboration between MTA, Canadian telecom Northwestel, and contractor Alaska Directional, reported the Anchorage Daily News.
The overland cable begins at the town of North Pole near Fairbanks and ends at Haines Junction, Yukon. There, it connects to cables installed by Northwestel, which enables connection to the rest of North America. The Daily News reported with the new cable, the state “is no longer solely dependent upon a series of subsea cables for high-speed internet and telephone” connectivity.
According to a video announcement by MTA CEO Michael Burke, the new network is active and carrying traffic. Burke added that since Alaska’s subsea cables are susceptible to damage caused by earthquakes, the overland connection offers an alternative, a “geographically diverse route.”
The new overland cable will save MTA money since the company no longer needs to pay “millions of dollars” annually to lease capacity on the undersea cables, owned by GCI and Alaska Communications, according to MTA’s vice president of wholesale and carrier relations, Francis LaChapelle. Additionally, MTA expects to sell access to the overland cable to other telecoms plus will receive interest from the federal government, reported the Daily News.