Skagway celebration marks completion of fiber-optic cable installation

Stakeholders from around the region are gathering in Skagway Friday, to celebrate the completion of a project that promises to improve internet in the Upper Lynn Canal.

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The path of the Lynn Canal fiber-optic cable. (AP&T)
The path of the Lynn Canal fiber-optic cable. (AP&T)

Leaders from Haines, Skagway, Klukwan, Juneau and the Yukon are joining Alaska Power and Telephone in Skagway to mark the completion of a project years in the making.

“Simply to celebrate not only the accomplishment but the connectedness of these communities going forward,” Mark McCready, director of marketing at AP&T, said. “And really what it means to these communities as we really have become truly a connected society no matter where you live. And it becomes such an important and dynamic component to really livability.”

The company has completed the installation of an 86-mile fiber-optic cable that runs underwater from Juneau to Skagway. It’s a multi-million dollar project aimed at improving internet in the region, growing capacity as demand for the service increases. They currently use a microwave network.

It’s not quite up and running yet. AP&T had estimated that would happen by the middle or end of this month. McCready said crews have been conducting tests and preparing to make service changes.

“I would imagine that in the last month or two here in 2016, that in all likelihood we’ll start making some adjustments to individual tiers of our service levels and providing more value to the customers,” McCready said.

The celebration in Skagway includes a performance from the Chilkat Dancers of Haines and Klukwan with an introduction from Haines Mayor Jan Hill and a keynote address from State Senator Dennis Egan, with an introduction from Skagway Mayor Mark Schaefer. AP&T COO Michael Garrett will also speak at the event.

“We’re really excited to be able to bring the folks together that partnered on the project, that will be impacted by the project, to share with them our vision going forward. And also have them be able to share their insights, their hopes, how they feel it will impact their community,” McCready said.

McCready says it’s also a chance to look ahead to the future.

“Looking at the fact that this region now provides an opportunity for what seems to be a single source going out of Yukon that has struggled with connectivity the last couple years,” McCready said.

There are no set plans yet for expansion into the Yukon but AP&T has talked about the possibility. In Alaska, AP&T expects to introduce new internet package later this year or early next year.

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