Canada’s northwestern territory to be Alaska’s new gateway to fast broadband

MTA Fibre Holdings is building a terrestrial fibre optic network to link up with a line Northwestel is building. (Northwestel)
Northwestel is building a new fibre optic line from Haines Junction to Beaver Creek, in Canada’s Yukon territory.

It should deliver faster Internet and better phone service to communities along the North Alaska Highway.

The new fibre line will also benefit Alaska.

According to, internet speeds in Alaska are among the slowest in the the U.S.

MTA Fibre Holdings, a subsidiary of MTA, a south central Alaska telecom company, wants to change that. It’s building a terrestrial fibre optic network to connect with Northwestel’s line.

Alaska is connected to the global Internet by four submarine cables that run under the ocean.

The problem is three of those cables carrying fibre optic lines are getting old.

“There are four underwater fibre optic cables that come from Alaska. Two of them were put in in 1999, twenty years ago. They run from South Central Alaska, an area near Whittier Alaska, south down to the Pacific Northwest,” said MTA CEO Michael Burke.

Burke said the cables are engineered for a 25-year lifespan.

“The fact that they come out of Alaska across the ring of fire and then cross it again going to the Pacific Northwest, that obviously is vulnerable to underwater earthquakes, avalanches, things of that nature,” Burke said.

The ALCan One (Alaska Canada Overland Network) will be the first all terrestrial fibre network linking Alaska to the Lower 48.

New line won’t affect Yukon broadband speeds

The new terrestrial line will be capable of 100-terabit-per second data speeds.

The new line will run between North Pole, Alaska, to the Canadian border near Beaver Creek. The line is expected to be completed next year.

Burke says MTA will lease bandwidth from Northwestel.

“The best way to describe it at the border is an interconnection of the two networks,” Burke said.

He said MTA’s use won’t affect Yukon’s broadband speeds.

Northwestel say construction of the line from Haines Junction to Beaver Creek is continuing as scheduled. It hopes to have the line in operation in 2020.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Optic fibre cable in Arctic Canada was cut in ‘rare’ weekend telecom outage, says Northwestel, CBC News

Finland: Major step towards a Europe-Asia Arctic cable link, Yle News

Norway: New satellites to boost communications in Arctic Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian military to get fast, secure internet through trans-Arctic cable, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Northern Sweden to host more Facebook servers, Radio Sweden

United States: Alaska’s first wireless 5G network to be built in Anchorage, Alaska Public Media

Mike Rudyk, CBC News

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