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Ketchikan pauses contracting process for fiber project

November 21, 2018

KETCHIKAN, Alaska (AP) — Ketchikan officials have halted the contracting process for a proposed undersea fiber-optic cable linking the city to Canada after permits and funding were not secured.

The Ketchikan City Council voted unanimously Monday to reject bids and cancel the proposed project contract, the Ketchikan Daily News reported .

Ketchikan Public Utilities had issued a request for proposals in September, seeking bids on the project to install the cable to Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

The city-owned utility has been searching for ways to boost internet bandwidth availability as demand increases.

Utility officials told the council earlier this year that internet usage had reached 80-percent capacity during peak hours, leading the utility to rent more capacity through the cable owned by another Alaska internet provider.

The utility received two on-time bid packages that were within budget projections, said Ed Cushing, the utility’s telecommunications division manager.

The utility has not yet received permits for the project, and it’s unlikely the utility will obtain some of them before mid-2019, Cushing said in a memo to the council.

Financing has also not been secured, so the lack of funding and permits would create a “material financial risk” to the utility if a contract was signed, Cushing said.

“Accordingly, I believe it is KPU?Telecommunications’ best interest to seek City Council authority” to cancel the request for proposals, reject the bids, and plan on rebidding the project next year, Cushing said.

Cushing declined to give a cost estimate for the project.

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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