Northern Alaska cable break repaired after 14 weeks of internet outages

A rocky stretch of coastline near Nome (Laura Kraegel/KNOM)

Repairs are complete to a severed fiber optic cable affecting internet and cellphone service in much of Northern and Western Alaska.

GCI announced the repairs in an email to customers Monday, 14 weeks after the cable was cut in an ice scouring event in the Arctic Ocean west of Prudhoe Bay. Many people in the affected regions experienced spotty internet and cell service and, at times, no internet connectivity at all. 

The company that built and owns the cable, Quintillion, originally anticipated service would be restored in eight weeks, but that timeline slipped several times.

When the cable initially broke, GCI switched customers to the company’s satellite and TERRA networks, which allowed for some connectivity. But GCI spokeswoman Heather Handyside said the company is beginning to transfer customers back to the faster fiber-optic service that connects to the Quintillion cable.

“That restoral effort has already begun,” Handyside said. “And I believe that customers are already seeing better service as a result.”

Handyside said GCI will be monitoring the network throughout the week. She said once network levels improve, the company will discontinue the credits it’s been providing customers since the initial cable break in June.

“It’s going to take us a while, maybe you know throughout the rest of the week, to fine-tune things to make sure that traffic levels are optimized, and that everyone is receiving the connectivity that they were receiving prior to the break,” she said.

Internet services through Northern and Western Alaska are expected to improve throughout the week. Quintillion cable break outage updates can be found on the company website.

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