Alaska Communications has upgraded its terrestrial and AKORN submarine networks with Ciena to improve internet access and provide secure, reliable connectivity. The network upgrades will also support demand for mobile broadband services, serve as a cloud enablement platform for Alaska businesses, and allow Alaska Communications to continue offering reliable Unlimited Internet to residents.
AKORN Cable Map
Source: Alaska Communications
With this additional network capacity, customers can take greater advantage of critical applications. For example, this can reduce the amount of time it takes hospitals to share high-imaging files, provide 24/7 connectivity for public health and safety notification systems, and enable large scale data transfer for higher education institutions.
Alaska Communications serves businesses, schools, health care providers, state and local governments and other carriers with the company’s terrestrial and subsea networks. AKORN, the undersea fiber-optic network between Alaska and Oregon, follows a unique, geographically-diverse secondary path, reducing the potential for service disruption.
This upgrade increases network capacity by four times from the Lower 48 to Alaska via Ciena’s GeoMesh solution. With the new scalable, OTN-switched network’s efficient traffic grooming and aggregation capabilities, Alaska Communications can rapidly turn up new services and deliver low-latency, high-capacity, and reliable connectivity, resulting in a superior customer experience.
“Alaska Communications is constantly upgrading our network to improve our customers’ experience. Our collaboration with Ciena is one way that we work to improve connectivity for businesses and consumers in Alaska. This upgrade will give our customers more agile capacity to expand services and leverage the power of our network and the cloud as organizations develop new services, providing businesses with new economic opportunities and supporting critical public safety services,” said Rick Benken, Senior Director, Network Engineering, Strategy and Management, Alaska Communications
For Ciena, Ian Clarke, Vice President, Global Submarine Systems commented, “Today’s web-scale tools have allowed application development to move quickly, driving new innovations and, subsequently, bandwidth demand, which creates new challenges for the network. Alaska Communications’ adoption of Ciena’s GeoMesh solution provides the expansive bandwidth, efficiency, and agility needed to deliver an exceptional customer experience in today’s on-demand society.”
ANALYSIS: The “AKORN” (Alaska-Oregon) submarine cable system was supplied on a turnkey basis by Tyco (now TE SubCom) and commissioned by Alaska Communications in 2009 at a cost of US$105M. The system is almost 3,000km long and consists of 4 fiber pairs and 25 undersea repeaters. AKORN was originally designed as a 64λ x 10 Gbit/s wavelength system with a design capacity of 2.56 Tbit/s. Pioneer has no record of any earlier upgrades which means that this upgrade has increased the overall design capacity of the system to around 10 Tbit/s. This yield of additional capacity is close to the norm for a 10 Gbit/s to 100 Gbit/s upgrade on a system of this vintage.
TE SubCom is now operating on a joint marketing basis with Ciena for submarine terminal equipment. It is therefore quite logical that Ciena would win this contract to upgrade a system using TE SubCom’s old 10 Gbit/s technology.
Together with Quintillion’s “Arctic Fibre” submarine cable which will bring another 11 Tbit/s of capacity to Alaska by the end of 2017, Alaska Communications is providing a significant amount of new capacity to a region that has traditionally been underserved. It remains to be seen, however, whether that capacity can be effectively delivered from the cable landing station to the end user in remote towns and communities.
Julian Rawle, Author
Thought leadership articles and commentary on developments related to the subsea fibre optic cable industry can be found here.