Mayors from Skagway, Haines and Junueau join Michael Garrett and Mark McCready of AP&T at a celebration for Lynn Canal Fiber on Oct. 21, 2016.

Mayors Mark Schaefer Skagway, Haines and Juneau join AP&T COO Michael Garrett and Mark McCready of AP&T, at a celebration for Lynn Canal Fiber on Oct. 21, 2016.

A new 86-mile undersea cable has been installed in the Lynn Canal. The fiber-optic line will bring faster Internet speeds to Skagway and Haines from a connection in Juneau.
Alaska Power and Telephone and several dignitaries had a celebration of Lynn Canal Fiber on Friday, Oct. 21 at the Skagway Traditional Council tribal house.
The celebration included a performance by the Chilkat Dancers of Klukwan, as well as remarks from State Senator Dennis Egan, Haines Mayor Jan Hill, Juneau Mayor Ken Koelsch, Skagway Mayor Mark Schaefer, and U.S. Congressional Delegation representative Connie McKenzie.
Skagway and Haines are currently being served by a microwave network for connectivity. The Lynn Canal Fiber project has been in the works for several years and has cost nearly $11 million, said Michael Garrett, chief operating officer of AP&T. The cable is sturdy enough to last for about 30 years. And it will eliminate the connectivity “bottleneck” that customers experience during tourist seasons.
The Silver Arrow took aboard 336 tons of cable on Sept. 12 from the Port of Tacoma and began deploying the 1-inch diameter armored undersea fiber on Sept. 21 at Lena Point, north of Juneau.
Garrett said the project hit a snag in 2015, when it was determined that the cable’s route would pass through the Chilkat Islands State Marine Park. After an analysis of the state rules governing parks, it wasn’t clear if the cable would be allowed.
But it was later determined that the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 would allow the cable because state laws that “…may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide interstate or intrastate telecommunications service” are illegal.
“This fiber-optic cable is the way to our future,” Egan said adding that he was impressed with the speed-of-light connectivity that allowed him to download an album from The Beatles in about a minute. “Now the Beatles catalog is in my phone, if I want it to be,” he said.
The mayors were each presented with a section of the cable that is split open. It’s called a “bloom” because the layers open like a flower.
“This reminds me of a quote by Langston Hughes: ‘Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.’ And to me, what you just did is a dream,” said Koelsch. “Isolation in Alaska causes people to know they couldn’t do things and they go ahead and do it anyway. It’s amazing, what people can do up here. Because no one has ever told them that: ‘You can’t do it.’ They go ahead and do it anyway,” he added.
With improved speed for Internet service, there will be a new pricing structure for AP&T customers. But customers will no longer need to install a phone line into their homes if they want only Internet connectivity.
For more information, a promotional video is available at: