Submarine Cable System - An initiative by Alaska Communications Systems

Project Objective:


To increase the communications capacity and associated bandwidth between Alaska and the continental United States as well as provide redundancy, thereby improving the reliability of the existing network.

Project Scope:

Alaska’s undersea fiber optic cable system – known as the Alaska-Oregon Network (AKORN) – connects Anchorage (Alaska) and Nikiski. From Nikiski it runs overland to Homer before travelling along the ocean floor to Florence, Oregon.

Project Details:

Construction of this high-speed, high-performance fiber optic cable system began in 2007 and was completed during the first quarter of 2009.


The main focuses during every phase of this project were to protect essential fish habitats and minimize interaction with anglers and their fishing gear.

In order to protect the cable and minimize any impact on the environment, the submarine cable was buried at a depth of 1.25 meters in the ocean floor, with the cable buried in water depths of 1,500 meters or less.

The project deployed the services of one of the largest directional drills in the U.S. This directional drill was used to install the steel casing from the beach manhole to a location in the ocean floor just beyond the continental shelf.

In addition to the submarine cable, terrestrial routes were constructed using existing aerial facilities. New facilities extending out from the beach manholes were also constructed in Alaska and Oregon using a combination of traditional underground and aerial construction methods.

PCI Solutions:

PCI provided the prime contractor with a dedicated project manager to assist with the project and to source materials that were outside of the norm for a traditional communications build. When an issue did occur with the drill stem, PCI arranged for four (4) trucks to rush the material from the U.S. jobsite back to Canada to get fixed and then back to the U.S. jobsite – all within a 48-hour time period.

PCI Involvement:

PCI worked very closely with the prime and civil contractors to:

  • Identify the exact requirements and specifications for the steel casing and beach manholes.
  • Approve and sign-off on the products being offered.
  • Coordinate logistics – We needed to ensure that product was on-site at the various staging locations well in advance of the arrival of the cable laying ship. Failure to have product on-site when required would result in delays and stand-by costs.


PCI was a material vendor to the civil contractor on this project and was contracted to supply:

  • Steel casing from the beach manhole to the continental shelf on the ocean floor – This steel casing was used to transport and protect the submarine cable from the continental shelf to the beach manhole.  
  • Beach manholes – These were used to facilitate the splicing of the submarine cable to the terrestrial cable.
  • The outside plant material required for the underground construction of the terrestrial routes, including: HDPE conduit, handholes, marking tape, splice closures, route markers, and other various materials.