Saturday, 03 February 2018 22:29

As Alaska fights against "digital inequality"

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Northern regions are severe climatic conditions, extreme temperatures and inaccessibility of some places. In Russia such territories are understood as Far North, Yamal and some more regions.

It is natural that these regions of a malozaselena, but presence of stable communication, living there, is necessary it is extremely necessary. In the USA our Alaska treats such regions once. Here a set of remote regions where simply there are no roads and any communications.

For example, the town of Kotsebu with the population 3 thousand people just belongs to such settlements where stable communication, but installation necessary here for this purpose infrastructures a thing difficult is necessary. To establish metal towers for antenna systems the special helicopter is used here.

The tower is delivered to nearby top where it is already expected by special team of assemblers. When the tower falls rather low it cling a steel rope to already prepared base. In a few minutes such hard and exact work all four metal bases of a tower precisely are established in base corners.

When installation is complete, to the pilot give a prearranged signal and he unhooks a tower from a tail. Behind that install the active equipment on a tower and it begins to transmit a signal to the world's largest zinc mine with couple of hundreds of miners living in Kotzebue. The territory is characterized here by droughty subarctic climate where on average only five days for all summer temperature rises slightly higher than +20 degrees. In the conditions of Far North connection to the Internet slow and expensive, so, according to FCC (Federal Communications Commision – the Federal commission on communication in the USA), the most part of inhabitants of Alaska rely only upon expensive satellite connection at speeds of dial-up of modems in 2 Mbit/sec. with a delay in 550 milliseconds (to nipaigrat).

Installation of a tower is a final stage in expansion of TERRA network – one of the most expensive a telecom of projects of last year. In six years around Alaska have constructed a 5000-kilometer ring of radio relay stations and fiber-optical lines that cost 300 million dollars.

Such Internet also not costs little. For example inhabitants Kotsuba and the cities nearby pay $60 monthly for speed in 3 Mbit/sec., and $150 for 6 Mbit/sec.

On construction of TERRA installation of 109 towers, radio relay transmitters was necessary. It is remarkable that construction term in six years is incredibly big figure for the private company and it once again confirms a thesis that construction of networks on Alaska very difficult process.

The TERRA network is located a ring around the southwest of Alaska. On the card the optics is marked in orange color, and yellow telecommunications of microwave range are allocated.

The majority of towers are established in villages, but it was necessary to deliver 23 by helicopter to mountains, just in that way described above. As a rule, such tower closes flight from 15 to 65 kilometers. Towers form a ring, and from them there are branches for association to the general network of ten small villages among which there is Shaktoolik (with the population of 258 people), Shageluk (the population 81 persons) and many others.

On each tower besides telecommunication iron, there are 48 accumulators. Such number of batteries are enough that the equipment I could work at a tower in the autonomous area two days. Also the diesel generator and the generator of reserve food can feed the station.

Power supply on towers is provided by means of two diesel generators which work round the clock. The fuel tank of one generator has the volume of 30 thousand liters. It is quite enough that one tower could work within 15 months. For filling of such tank with fuel the helicopter makes 30 calling

The fault tolerance is one of the main principles on which TERRA has built the network. The ring topology allows, quickly to redirect traffic at failure of one of knots.

In such systems the software which has to keep under control literally all parameters of system is of great importance. Since determination of frequency and amplitude of the bearing wave on which the signal is transmitted and finishing with priority service of traffic. ON is the cornerstone of operability of the network functioning in extreme conditions of the Arctic. ON allows to carry out routing of traffic far off via a certain antenna on a tower. Control for weather to conditions allows the software to minimize attenuation of radio signals.

One more problem is that wave guides (on which microwaves extend), represent the hollow metal tubes connecting (for example) the amplifier and antennas. But in such severe climatic conditions of Alaska in wave guides moisture can collect and freeze. Therefore the system of the waveguide paths is under pressure of air periodically to make a purge of system and to interfere thereby with moisture accumulation.

Despite a huge number of solutions of reservation, periodically there are malfunctions. For example, there were cases when took down one of antennas the block of ice which has melted in the sun and descended from tower top. In this case saves the software which allows to redirect far off traffic from the failed antenna.

Any other company never found possible earlier economically delivery of the land Internet in this remote part of Alaska. Implementation of the TERRA project has become possible thanks to the government grants received by the company, loans and subsidies.
Even with this support tariffs which are paid by clients of TERRA remain much higher, than in other regions of the United States. The most expensive tariff plan in network costs 300 dollars a month. This tariff plan guarantees ping in 25 milliseconds. After long years of neglect from the telecommunication companies rural Alaska is of interest now, and the GCI company already faces the competition, at least, on the small site of service of TERRA. Recently the Quintillion company has established an underwater fiber-optical cable for ensuring broadband communication in villages along the northwest coast of Alaska.

It is good news to subscribers of Alaska and bad for GCI – founders of TERRA network. The last repeater has been included in TERRA networks in October, 2017 in the point marked on the card as Final Repeater:

Now towers of TERRA have the expected service life from 50 to 60 years. During this time there will be several new generations of the wireless technologies demanding from GCI of modernization of the equipment. Already now engineers have begun to replace generators on the earliest objects which have already reached the five-year service life.

GCI already sells TERRA capacities to other telecommunication companies that has to promote expansion for inhabitants of services of Internet access, but competitors say that the payment for the cost of GCI is too high and accuse her of monopoly for Internet service in the territory of Alaska. Several competitors have already written complaints to the Federal commission on communication in the USA.

Undoubtedly, project of TERRA network this quite economic and risky offer. But this network can also become the real break, having provided with communication dozens of the villages of Alaska which were left without the "land" Internet until recently.



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