The path of the Lynn Canal fiber-optic cable. (AP&T)

The path of the Lynn Canal fiber-optic cable. (AP&T)

Alaska Power and Telephone customers in the Upper Lynn Canal received good news last month when they found out their internet packages would improve due to a multi-million dollar fiber optic project. But in the weeks following, repeated internet outages have frustrated customers. AP&T says the problems were not caused by the recent changes.

“It’s not common. Especially for us. We haven’t seen these kinds of outages in a long time,” says Bryant Smith, AP&T’s director of internet services. He says there are a few different things going on that have led to the latest internet issues.

First, there were total outages for customers throughout Southeast and as far North as Tok the last two Saturdays that resulted from a malfunctioning piece of equipment in Juneau.

“Juneau is where we hand off our traffic to the internet,” says Smith. “And so we have equipment in Juneau that malfunctioned. We basically had to have our people get in and clear those alerts and fix the issues.”

In each case, the internet was down for about 45 minutes to an hour.

There have also been a few issues related to home equipment. According to Smith, last week, customers with a specific type of modem were temporarily prevented from visiting encrypted websites, those that start with ‘https.’

The other thing going on has to do with the migration to new internet packages in the Upper Lynn Canal. Those were rolled out at the end of last month in anticipation for the increased capacity from a newly installed fiber optic cable. Smith says about 100 people in Haines and Skagway were effected by out-of-date modems that weren’t ready for the change.

“We have the fiber there now,” says Smith. “We have these new packages available. And some of the faster speeds, if you’ve got a customer that’s a little further away from our central office, that would require us to use a different type of modem where we use four wires instead of two wires.”

That means some customers are experiencing slower speeds than their package allows for.

“Let’s say they migrated to a 15 [megabit] speed or a 25 [megabit] speed, then they would just be at a slower speed until they were able to get that bonded modem,” says Smith.

He says fixing that issue is just a matter of upgrading to new equipment.

“Making sure that people are available for us to work with them. Come out and wire it up and test the speed and move on to the next customer,” says Smith.

Smith says they’ll likely be working to upgrade those modems into next month.