Quintillion Provides Update on Repairs to Arctic Undersea Fiber Optic Cable

Quintillion addresses a June cable break in the Arctic, with repair resources ready once ice conditions allow.By Suzanne Downing, Must Read Alaska
July 5, 2023

Quintillion, a provider of undersea fiber optics cable that stretch under the Arctic Ocean and all the way down the Bering Straits to the Aleutians, is gearing up to address a mid-June cable break that has disrupted communication in the region.

Quintillion’s cable broke as “a result of an ice scouring event,” at about 55 km north of Oliktok Point. Ice scouring happens when floating ice drifts into shallower areas and grinds the seabed, damaging the cable infrastructure

The outage affected communities of Nome, Kotzebue, Point Hope, Wainwright, and Utqiagvik, Bethel, and others in between, forcing them to search for satellite alternatives.

The company said last week that all necessary resources, tools, and equipment are now in place to begin repairs, and workers are waiting for the abatement of ice on the Arctic Ocean at the site of the break.

The initial stage of mobilizing repair vessels has been completed, setting the stage for the subsequent phase of repairs. However, due to logistical challenges associated with the icy conditions, future updates may contain fewer details as a result of transit and waiting time for ice abatement, the company said.

To maintain transparency and keep stakeholders informed, Quintillion has provided regular updates on the progress of repair operations.

While no change in the estimated time for repair has been reported, Quintillion is exploring options to expedite the work, evaluating various approaches based on risk profile, probability of success, and safety considerations. Additionally, Quintillion is monitoring ice-free estimates and forecasts.

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