The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) through a press release announced plans for the launch of the first indigenous-owned cable landing station and backhaul network provider on the West Coast of the United States.
This new venture, working with Toptana Technologies, is said to bring connectivity to unserved and under-served markets across Washington and Oregon, including the QIN community who the release states remains vastly behind in the digital divide, and extending to surrounding communities, rural areas and other tribal groups.
The plan includes a cable landing station that will support four subsea cable customers at launch, with the capacity to expand up to 16 customers over time, offering the option of 100% renewable power.
“Toptana Technologies will greatly support tribal and non-tribal communities’ ability to access key digital resources at industry standards found in other communities that are increasingly required for healthcare, economic development, education, employment, and more,” said Guy Capoeman, Quinault Indian Nation President. “We envision a world where connectivity powers endless possibilities to advance quality of life while preserving stories and traditions for generations to come. Toptana presents this opportunity for QIN to help lead our community forward towards a world where the digital divide simply does not exist.”
QIN states that new subsea cables have not landed in the State of Washington for over 20 years, and declining existing infrastructure has been a concern for the region, particularly as global internet demand continues to surge.
Without the infrastructure of additional subsea cables to power a direct source, expanding access to high speed internet in the region is a daunting task.
“Toptana Technologies presents a sustainable, environmentally-conscious and socially responsible pathway to address the market demand for transpacific subsea and terrestrial connectivity in the northwest, while improving the lives of millions that seek greater connectivity and advancing possibilities that honor the sovereignty of the QIN people,” said Daniel Ebling, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Quinault Indian Nation.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, 97% of Americans living in urban areas have access to high-speed internet compared to 65% in rural areas and 60% on tribal lands.
This limits access to important goods and services, such as online learning, telemedicine, job and e-commerce opportunities, workforce development initiatives, and emergency response services.
In an effort to address both the need for subsea cables and the demand for expanded internet access in the region, various feasibility studies had been done on Washington State’s coast in prior years.
Despite a need for such projects, prior ventures were deemed infeasible.
“QIN saw a great opportunity and conducted our own feasibility study for a cable landing station on our nearly 30-miles of coastline and surrounding coastal property locations,” said Tyson Johnson, Head of Development for Toptana Technologies and former Quinault Indian Nation Vice President. “With careful consideration of environmental resources and concern for the fishing industry, we determined that QIN territory was a highly feasible landing point and one which uniquely overcame the challenges previously identified. In late 2019, the process began to find industry partners to bring this project to life that could balance technological progress, continued advancement towards a sustainable economy, stewardship of land and waters, and make a positive impact for the next seven generations.”
Toptana Technologies will provide transpacific network capacity from the Pacific Northwest to Asia-Pacific and Oceania markets, enabling network access from the Coast to the I-5 corridor with onward connectivity to Seattle, and Hillsboro, Oregon.
In addition to connectivity, Toptana’s fiber optic network is said to have minimal disruption to the community and the environment with 100% of the terrestrial network existing underground.
Construction of the cable landing station will begin in mid-to-late 2023, and is expected to be operational in 2025.