1 July 2003 Anchorage, AK Lightwave-- General Communication, Inc. (GCI) officials announced the building of a $50 million fiber-optic cable connecting Seward, Alaska and Warrenton, Oregon. The 1,544-statute mile cable has a total design capacity of 640-Gbit/sec access speed and is expected to be operational by May 2004.
The cable will complement GCI's existing fiber-optic cable between Whittier, Alaska and Seattle, Washington. The two cables will provide physically diverse instant backup to each other in the event of an outage.
"In combination with GCI's Alaska United cable, this new fiber-optic cable will provide unprecedented reliability for business, education, and government users," said Richard Dowling, GCI senior vice president, corporate development. "The project underscores GCI's commitment to Alaska and our continued investment in its future."
When the system is completed in 2004, it will deliver a minimum of 258,048 simultaneous clear channel voice or data circuits at transmission speeds of 20 billion bits per second. As demand increases, capacity can be increased to support a minimum of 8,257,536 simultaneous clear channel voice or data circuits at speeds of 640 billion bits per second.
A consortium of companies, with members NEC Corp., OCC Corp., and Global Marine Systems Limited (GMSL) headed by Sumitomo Corp. of Japan, has been selected to design, engineer, manufacture and install the undersea cable system. The consortium brings together the strengths of three world-renowned companies. NEC will engineer, manufacture and integrate the system. OCC will produce the undersea cable. GMSL will install the system in the complex marine environment.
"We are extremely excited about being chosen to build this important infrastructure project, and to be working with GCI. We believe this project will have an important impact on the future telecommunications needs of Alaska," said Koji Takahashi, executive marketing manager of NEC.
"We are delighted that our consortium has been awarded this contract. The challenges off the Alaska coast have provided a real opportunity for us to demonstrate the tailor made approach we have to installation," added Murray Eldridge, commercial director, Global Marine.
The new cable will be configured in a SONET ring with the current system, which provides alternative routing and overflow traffic handling capabilities. A sub-sea survey of the route was completed October of 2002. Manufacturing of the cable, landing stations, and equipment will begin immediately and cable deployment is expected to commence January 2004 with commercial operation by May 30, 2004.
GCI expects to finance the construction of the fiber cable out of its free cash flow with assistance from a Senior Credit Facility provided by a syndication of financial institutions led by Credit Lyonnais, New York.
Based on revenues, GCI is the largest Alaska-based and operated integrated telecommunications provider and provides local, wireless, and long distance telephone, cable television, Internet and data communication services throughout Alaska.