recommended reading

Northwest Passage Fiber Optic Line Could Support Defense Arctic Strategy

The line would cross Canada's Northwest Passage.

The line would cross Canada's Northwest Passage. // Flickr user MarineBugs

A Canadian company’s bold project to install a high speed fiber optic network across the roof of the world could provide the Defense Department with broadband connections to support its new Arctic strategy unveiled last week

Arctic Fibre of Toronto plans to start construction in May 2014 on its $620 million, 24 terabit network linking London and Tokyo with a route through the Northwest Passage. The network is slated to start operating in January 2016. It will have 100 gigabit spurs to areas of Alaska that have minimal or no communications links, Douglas Cunningham, the company’s president told Nextgov.

One leg of the undersea cable will directly serve tiny Shemya Island at the tail end of the Aleutian Islands chain, 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage, Cunningham said.  Shemya, two miles long by four miles wide,  is home to Eareckson Air Station, home of the Missile Defense Agency’s powerful “Cobra Dane” radar, which can monitor missile launches from Russia and China and also track space debris.

Arctic Fibre also plans to run another 100 gigabit spur into Prudhoe Bay on the northern coast of Alaska and then down to the Dalton Highway to Fairbanks, Cunningham said, providing high speed connections to interior Alaska.

Interior Alaska is already served by terrestrial broadband networks connected to undersea cables that originate in Seattle, but Arctic Fibre, due to its short polar route, has the lowest latency of any cable route into the state and offers faster connections to cities in the mainland United States than other routes, Cunningham said.

Low latency on the main London-Tokyo link is one of the key selling points of Arctic Fibre to high high-speed stock traders who will “pay a premium” to shave milliseconds off a transaction, Cunningham said.

Cunningham said Arctic Fibre can help meet requirements outlined in the new Defense Arctic Strategy, which calls for “innovative, low-cost solutions for polar Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance” -- or C4ISR.”

Defense C4ISR assets in the Arctic currently are “are extremely limited in latitudes above 70°N due to magnetic and solar phenomena that degrade high-frequency radio signals, limited surface-based relays outside of Alaska, and geostationary satellite geometry. High-data-rate satellite communications are sparse, but commercial low-rate service is available,” the Pentagon said in a 2011 report to Congress on Arctic Operations and the Northwest Passage.

Arctic Fibre has partnered with Quintillion Networks of Anchorage, which has exclusive rights in the state. Elizabeth Pierce, Quintillion’s chief executive officer told Nextgov that Arctic Fibre will offer high speed service to remote Alaskan communities at rates far below the cost of satellite service, which she characterized as both expensive and slow, with the best circuits offering only two megabits of throughput.

Quintillion will focus on service to coastal Alaska, including Prudhoe Bay, Shemya and communities such as Barrow, Wainwright, Kotzebue, and Nome,  along with Adak Island, home of a major Coast Guard base and Unalaska, both in the Aleutians.

Quintillion plans to serve the Coast Guard, Defense installations and other government customers in Alaska and has engaged in talks with the Defense Information Systems Agency. Pierce said Quintillion made a low cost sales pitch to DISA on a “capacity lease” basis that does not require any up front funds.

By the time of this article’s publication, DISA had not yet responded to a Monday query from Nextgov on whether or not it has any plans to use Quintillion.

(Image via Flickr user MarineBugs)

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.