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Local Internet Costs Still Unclear for Fiber Optic Cable Project

Quintillion will start laying cable in June and finish construction in early September, according to spokesperson Tim Woolston. He said local customers should have faster internet by early 2017. Image: Quintillion.

NOME, Alaska — This summer, Quintillion will lay undersea fiber optic cable from Prudhoe Bay to Nome. The project is scheduled to bring high-speed internet to western Alaska by March of 2017, but local providers won’t say how much it will cost for residents in the Bering Strait Region.

“No, I’m sorry. I can’t really speak to timelines or pricing or anything like that. I just don’t have any information that I can share at this time,” said Celine Kaplan, a marketing manager for TelAlaska, the company that will bring high-speed internet to Nome using Quintillion’s infrastructure.

Quintillion CEO Elizabeth Pierce said she’s not surprised that TelAlaska and other local providers are so tight-lipped about pricing.

“In a highly competitive market, which this will now become, too soon and you lose your competitive advantage,” she said.

Pierce was in Nome Thursday night to share the construction schedule with the public. Right now, she said local providers are probably focusing on bigger, commercial customers like schools and businesses. She said individuals and families should start hearing sales pitches in October, when high-speed internet is just six months away.

In the meantime, Pierce said Quintillion will charge 50 to 70 percent less than other backhaul providers without fiber optics. That means local carriers will save significantly on wholesale. She said they’ll have a few options when passing those savings on to customers.

“They can dramatically improve their service packages,” she said. “Maybe they’ve only got a one-megabit-per-second service, and now they can provide a 25-megabit-per-second service. Or they might reduce the cost of service on the one-megabit-per-second.”

Quintillion staff will visit Nome again in May or June to deliver another public update on the project. They’ll also stop in Kotzebue, Point Hope, Wainwright, and Barrow, where the company is also laying cable.