Quintillion, the Alaska telecom company that suffered a fiber optics line break at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean this month, has won a major grant of $89 million from the “National Telecommunications and Information Administration Middle Mile Fund.”
Headquartered in Anchorage, Alaska, Quintillion provides middle-mile services for last-mile service providers in the Northwest Arctic and North Slope regions, as well as along the Dalton Highway corridor from Prudhoe Bay to Fairbanks.
Quintillion is the only telecommunications operator to have built a subsea and terrestrial fiber optic cable network in the U.S. Arctic. It’s a provider of high-speed broadband networks, satellite ground station, and cloud service connectivity.
The NTIA grant will facilitate a multi-year project to lengthen the subsea broadband infrastructure connecting Nome to Homer, with the aim of bolstering Alaska’s currently tenuous broadband network infrastructure.
Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan hailed the grant as an essential step.
“This award comes at a critical time for Alaska,” said Murkowski.
Sen. Sullivan said, “The lack of internet access in Alaska was a driving force behind my work on the broadband provisions of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.”
Last week, thousands of Alaskans along the north and northwest coast experienced partial or total internet outages due to a damaged fiber cable. Customers as far south as Bethel are feeling the crunch, as they have slow or no wireless phone or internet service, since the June 11 cut. Some are transitioning to Starlink satellite service or using analog where they are able.
The Quintillion project, funded through the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program, will, lengthen the existing network and complete a ring of connectivity, which may reduce the last-mile cost of connecting unserved or poorly served areas to the internet.
Alaska received 8.88% of the $1 billion NTIA middle-mile funds. This is the largest federal fiber buildout award ever for Alaska, sources told Must Read Alaska.