The east side of Lynn Canal is seen on the morning on February 3, 2014.

The east side of Lynn Canal is seen on the morning on February 3, 2014.

State agency approves path of undersea cable in Lynn Canal

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources has reached an agreement with Alaska Power and Telephone on the path of an undersea fiber-optic cable between Juneau and Haines/Skagway.

The agreement was announced in a public notice published Friday by the department.

The 86-mile cable, once laid, will immediately connect Haines and Skagway with the existing fiber-optic telecommunications cable that links Juneau and the rest of Southeast Alaska with the rest of the world.

AP&T, which will lay the cable, has bigger plans, however. It envisions the link as the first step to connecting Southeast Alaska’s fiber-optic network with Whitehorse and the Yukon, which are reliant on a single, frequently severed fiber-optic cable to the rest of Canada.

The Lynn Canal cable, if successful, would provide redundancy for both Southeast Alaska and the Yukon.

In 2015, the project hit a snag when it was determined that the cable’s route would pass through the Chilkat Islands State Marine Park. According to an analysis of the state rules governing parks, it wasn’t clear if the cable would be allowed.

On Friday, the state notice declared that the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 would allow the cable because state laws that “may prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting the ability of any entity to provide interstate or intrastate telecommunications service” are illegal.

The cable is expected to be laid later this year.

The public may comment on the decision by emailing david.gann@alaska.gov before March 28.

AP&T will pay $35,500 per year to the state for the authority to use the state-owned seabed for the cable.

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