Quintillion waits out ice, as summer begins to wane in the Arctic


Quintillion Global, which is trying to repair a broken undersea fiber optic cable in the Arctic, has kept the repair vessel waiting in Wainwright due to lingering ice conditions around Point Barrow and the area where the cable is broken.

Quintillion, a provider of undersea fiber optics cable that stretch under the Arctic Ocean and all the way down the Bering Strait to the Aleutians, has been trying to reach the broken cable since the incident occurred June 13. Quintillion at the time estimated the break could mean up to eight weeks of no internet service in the Arctic. Other service providers have filled in to a limited extent.

Quintillion’s cable broke as a result of an ice scouring event, at about 55 km north of Oliktok Point. Ice scouring happens when floating ice drifts into shallower areas and grinds the seabed, damaging the cable infrastructure.

The outage affected communities of Nome, Kotzebue, Point Hope, Wainwright, and Utqiagvik, Bethel, and others in between, forcing them to search for satellite alternatives. 

Ice continues to drift to the east and north, the company said. Much of the ice continues to fracture into smaller pieces aiding in the melt process and flushing out into the southern Beaufort Sea.

The company estimates are that the vessel can make the transit later this week if ice continues to abate on the current trend. The vessel will engage at the first clear and safe opportunity, Quintillion said. Last week, the hope was to reach the break site by Aug. 22.

Weather in Wainwright this week will reach the mid-40s and drop into the 30s at night as the days grow shorter. Right now, there are about 17 hours of daylight in the far north, but that is reduced by roughly 10 minutes a day at this time of year.


  1. Man-Bear-Pig said this wasn’t supposed to happen, like, 20 years ago. He musta been distracted by his masseuse.

  2. Hmmm…. half the homes and the corporation already have Starlink in Quinhagak. The rest are waiting on the reduced PFD to buy a Starlink Dish.

    The folks that have Starlink are never going back to GCI Internet. The monthly bill of satellite versus hardline pretty much guarantee that.

    A school could have a $5000 a month bill with Starlink, as opposed to over a $100,000 they are paying now.

    Follow the money. You’ll find Rural legislators and their Native Corporation rolling in tens of millions of contract money too string hard line to villages that don’t even want it.

    Start with Bethel Native Corporation.

  3. Starlink makes too much sense, can’t have that going on. Only thing people know these days are non-sense.

  4. Wasn’t the ice suppose to be gone from climate change by now? Al Gore said so years ago. Don’t tell me he lied and tried to scare everyone into a give-me-money scam to control the temperature.

  5. I fail to see how this huge investment will benefit anyone other than a few large corporations. It is outdated technology rapidly being replaced by satellites. It would make more sense and be cheaper to give each person affected by slow internet a million dollars. Then they could continue to live their traditional lifestyle with a 400 dollar satellite dish if they have the need to “reach out “.

  6. The natives want Quintillion because it delivers Quintillions of dollars into their pockets. Shareholder dividends makes PFD earnings look like chump change at the bingo hall on a Friday night.
    There has been an ongoing battle for years between native corporations versus village corporations fighting over who owns the land where the cable enters the shoreline as millions will be paid out for years to come for property leases to facilitate cable terminals.

    Major amounts of money pouring into all communities. Gotta have everyone on high speed internet to facilitate TikTok on the kids cell phones 24/7 as there is nothing else for them to do. Electronic devices are the perfect babysitting tools for toddlers 3yrs old and up.

  7. I would not be so quick to discount the benefits of duplicity. Satellites are precarious, just as the cable under the sea floor apparently is.

    • Maybe they should build a year round “heated” port there to harbor the repair ship because just like clockwork wind blowing ice to and from shore the cable will be broken again and again and again.(unless they go with the expensive kevlar sheath) LOL
      Ask any arctic resident about the power of the ice and they will confirm.
      But thankfully the cost of repairs and downtime is so minimal it will hardly even be noticed…

  8. Starlink is not really a solution. It cannot provide the bandwidth that fiber provides. Would be nice if global warming would cooperate and open the sea ice for the repair ship. If we only had Coast Guard ice breakers available to help open the path to the site of the break. Norwegians, Swedes, Finns and (gasp!) even the Russians have plenty of ice breakers to help with commerce and communication-related work such as this. Would that the US of A have such vision for the nation and the Last Frontier.

  9. Unpossible.

    Al Gore long ago assured us that the Arctic Ocean would be entirely ice-free, and coconuts would be growing on Ellesmere Island, by 2012.

    I’m not sure about the coconuts, but those Baffin Island bananas are to die for.

  10. “Lingering ice”. “Ice scouring in shallower areas”. It’s late August. If the ice doesn’t stop lingering soon, it isn’t going to happen. And all this when global warming is going to kill us all……..along with the polar bears.
    It could be worse; we could be running from fires in Canada or Hawaii…………

  11. The National Weather Service now says it’s not sea ice blocking access to the cable break, it’s a mass of dead polar bear carcasses. Perhaps we could Hide The Decline Using Mike’s Nature Trick.

  12. I live in the deep interior. My upgraded Starlink cost $1500. Monthly rate is $90 for more internet than I’ll ever use. Never any substantial outages and it’s super fast. Screw GCI, AT&T and the rest of them.

  13. Typical Alaska government crony pork barrel ingenuity – let’s invest millions of dollars repairing old technology instead of embracing the new StarLink infrastructure. No wonder State coffers are running out of money!

Comments are closed.