Alaska Communications, Quintillion purchase North Slope dark fiber network

Alaska Communications and Quintillion Holdings, a regional service provider, are purchasing a fiber network from ConocoPhillips that they say will enable them to target business service opportunities in the region's growing oil and gas industry.

The fiber network that the two providers purchased in April is located in the portion of Alaska's North Slope oil patch where most of the new development is taking place.

"There is a healthy demand for high-quality fiber optic communication on the North Slope from operators and support companies," said Mike Todd, senior VP of engineering and operations for Alaksa Communications, in an e-mail to FierceTelecom. "There is an enormous amount of data that needs to be transmitted from the Slope to other parts of Alaska, the Lower 48 and across the world quickly and reliably." 

But this is not just a speculative fiber purchase. Alaska Communications also signed a multi-year service agreement with ConocoPhillips, one of Alaska's largest exploration and production companies, as its first customer.

"We will leverage our track record with ConocoPhillips to serve other oil and gas producers, helping them to use the latest technology applications," Todd said. 

Given the remote nature of the fiber network, Alaska Communications will be able to provide services to an area that was only able to get access to microwave or satellite communications. As an open access network, Alaska Communications will deliver its own suite of IP-based Ethernet and SIP Trunking, while offering wholesale access to other area providers.

Elizabeth Pierce, Quintillion Holdings CEO, said in a release that over the next two years, it will expand its network, "increasing the availability of services over fiber optic cable in remote regions of Alaska by making access available to all telecom service providers."

Part of Quintillion's planned expansion includes a new fiber-based connection between Deadhorse, on Alaska's North Slope, and Fairbanks, and the construction of a subsea fiber connection from Prudhoe Bay to Nome, two elements that will provide more bandwidth options to a range of consumers and businesses. 

Upon completion, this fiber network investment will increase connectivity to oil and gas fields including the Kuparuk River Unit, Colville River Unit, Milne Point Unit, Prudhoe Bay Unit and Oooguruk Unit. It also allows Alaska Communications to extend its current portfolio of managed IT solutions and professional services on the North Slope and is part of the company's continued focus to bring its IT and network services into more parts of the state.  

Todd said what makes this route unique is that it's the "only fiber network on the North Slope that reaches the Kuparuk River Unit and Colville River Unit, where most new development is occurring."

For more:
- see the release

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This article was updated on May 11 with additional information from Alaksa Communications.