Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 11:26 AM on Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Connecting communities


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Crews on the Intrepid, left, and R/V Thunder, right, work to lay cable off Bishop's Beach in Kachemak Bay on Monday morning.

The International Telecom ship Intrepid maneuvers off Bishop's Beach and the Homer bluff late last month in preparation for laying a fiber optic cable from Homer to Williamsport.

Part of the Terra/GCI project, the Intrepid and support boats left Kachemak Bay June 28 on the way to a ground connection on the west side of Cook Inlet. The cable also will be laid on the bottom of Lake Iliamna, and then go on land to Levelock. Terra/GCI will bring a high-speed information network to 65 communities in western Alaska and the Yukon-Kuskokwim River delta. The project brings lower-cost and higher-bandwidth service to the villages.

"This will open it up so we can start offering equivalent packages to consumers, businesses, distance education centers and health clinics," said Krag Johnsen, director of rural broadband for GCI. "It's a really historic project."

The Terra/GCI cable connects in Homer through a buried trench and borehole at the Homer Elks Lodge, tying into the Kodiak-Kenai Cable Company Kodiak-Kenai Fiber Link system. The Homer-based Research Vessel Thunder and Northern Telecommunications Consultants did the marine survey for the project.

Terra/GCI is the third fiber optic cable to land in Homer. The Kodiak-Kenai Fiber Link connects Homer with Kodiak, Kenai and Anchorage, and Alaska Communications' AKORN cable connects Homer to Florence, Ore.