Newport News Times of Oregon 10/4/2017
by Steve Card
Wave Broadband, a leading provider of fiber connectivity, internet access and phone service on the West Coast, has announced the completion of its 97-mile Nestucca Route. This underground fiber route links the undersea cable landing station in Pacific City to the company’s Data Center Ring in Hillsboro, which currently connects six nearby data centers. Businesses connected to the fiber ring or the landing station can now leverage Wave’s 7,500-plus miles of fiber network to transmit data along the West Coast.
Work on the Nestucca Route was done by the Newport-based CoastCom, which was acquired by Wave about a year ago. The company is now known as CoastCom by Wave.
Matt Updenkelder, the director of commercial business management for CoastCom by Wave, said with the completion of the Nestucca Route, they now have two fiber routes between Pacific City and Hillsboro. One of the company’s primary customers required a second, diverse route, “so if we’ve got problems with one, there’s enough bandwidth to be able to route traffic around automatically without any outage,” he said.
CoastCom had owned the Nestucca Route for several years. “We had a 100 percent underground route that we completed several years ago, but it was a very small cable,” Updenkelder said. “What we did was build a new south route, which we call the Salmon Route.” They then re-routed all of the digital traffic off of that north route, ripped out the old cable and installed the new cable now known as the Nestucca Route. “So now we have two brand new routes with higher quality fiber cable that’s 20-30 years newer,” he said.
Mark Peterson, a company spokesman for Wave Broadband, said of the project, “From a Wave standpoint, this kind of brought CoastCom and Wave together. One of the motivating factors for Wave in joining forces with CoastCom was having local expertise, and this is a really good example of that kind of playing out. They’re under the Wave umbrella, but they’re still very autonomous in terms of being able to execute what they need to be able to do locally and just continuing to grow what they’ve been working on, in this case, about a two-and-a-half-year project.”
Updenkelder said the project was not without challenges, due in large part to the heavy rainfall the area received last winter. “We had a pretty wet winter, and we frequently would dig a hole for a vault, set the vault, get everything ready to go, and we’d come back the next day and it would have floated up. So we’d have to pull it out, dig it back down,” he said.
“We had some issues with collapsed conduits along the way,” added Updenkelder. “We had to get creative in the way that we placed the fiber, which was a new thing for us. Most of the fiber on the Nestucca Route was actually blown in with high-pressure air instead of the traditional method of pulling the fiber in. It’s pretty interesting technology.”
This network expansion now enables entities on Wave’s fiber network to directly link with Asia through the Pacific City landing station. Markets in China, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan connect on the New Cross Pacific (NCP) Cable, while Hawaii, American Samoa, New Zealand and Australia will be added when the Hawaii Cable is scheduled to land at the station this month.
Oregon has become a popular location for bringing these undersea cables ashore.
“Oregon is one of the easiest places on the West Coast, compared to Washington and California, to land the cable because our permitting is streamlined, we have a unique Oregon Fishermen’s Cable Committee, and we have a well-established relationship with them,” Updenkelder said. “We make it fairly easy for new, potential submarine cables to land on our coast here.”
And working on the landside of these cables has become a niche market for CoastCom by Wave. “We manage the cable landing station in Pacific City, we own the two routes out of Pacific City into Hillsboro, and I think what we would be trying to do now is find other locations on the Oregon coast to land new cables,” Updenkelder said. “It creates growth in data centers, it creates growth in IT-related jobs in that area.”
The digital traffic using the Nestucca and Salmon routes can be quite diverse. “It could be an eyeball network like a Netflix, or it could be a retail, like an Amazon, it could be a CenturyLink, it could be a cell provider like Verizon — all kinds of data comes in from the ocean into these cable landing stations and obviously has to make its way to the metro area,” said Updenkelder. “There’s a huge shift, fundamentally, to the cloud, so most of these undersea cables that are high capacity are, in some way, supporting the cloud, whether it’s on the telecommunications side or the data side — that’s what’s driving the need for more bandwidth.”
Greg Palser, Wave vice president of business development, said, “The completion of the Nestucca Route is not only a major milestone for our company but it, along with the 101-mile Salmon Route, represents a truly unique solution for the submarine cables that land in Oregon.”