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Quintillion, ATLAS Space Operations Expand Strategic Data Infrastructure in Arctic

Oct 23, 2019 | Monitor

Partnership brings availability, capacity, bandwidth, low latency to LEO satellites on multiple existing and planned fiber routes

ANCHORAGE—Quintillion Networks and ATLAS Space Operations announced plans for North America’s highest latitude ground station to be located 250 miles inside of the Arctic Circle in Utqiaġvik. Upon its completion in the first quarter of 2020, the new Quintillion-ATLAS 3.7-meter ground station will be put to use immediately by the US government and commercial customers. By utilizing Quintillion’s existing fiber optic infrastructure, ATLAS adds this valuable and geographically diverse site to its growing global FREEDOM network to provide greater data access from space.

Businesses and consumers worldwide use billions of internet-connected devices everyday and rely on vast infrastructure that makes modern telecommunications possible. Thousand-mile long undersea fiber cables, powerful data centers, and increasingly dense satellite constellations all work in tandem to move data traffic around the world at the speed of light. Due to Quintillion and ATLAS’ efforts, for the first time the United States will have a competitive solution for accessing data created in and transmitted through space.

The polar nature of ATLAS’ Alaska ground station, connected through Quintillion’s fiber network, fills an important network gap that is not served by sites in lower latitudes. Because many satellites pass over the Arctic during their orbit, and because the sheer number of satellites is skyrocketing with declining launch costs, polar ground stations give owners the mission-critical ability to communicate with their satellites more frequently, preserving the value of the data collected in space.

“The Arctic has traditionally been a digital bottleneck, or ‘black hole,’ negatively impacting residential, commercial and government clients living and working in the region and slowing economic, information, and commerce activity around the world,” said George Tronsrue, interim CEO of Quintillion. “Our developing Arctic infrastructure, located in one of the highest latitude regions of the world, coupled with a resurging international push to launch thousands of new satellites over the next decade, strongly positions us to be the leading infrastructure provider to US and North American partners/clients and to global satellite ground station operators. Additionally, we can offer a unique and cost-effective solution to the international space community in the months and years ahead. We expect our project with ATLAS will be the first of many, as we believe the forecasted data explosion in space will make what we have experienced here on Earth over last two decades seem miniscule by comparison.”

In addition, US government customers whose guidelines require partners be US-based will be delighted by this polar access, and the remoteness of the location minimizes the risk of interference with other signals.

“Access to high speed connectivity in the Arctic has been a challenge until now,” said Sean McDaniel, CEO and co-founder of ATLAS. “Our partnership with Quintillion enables ATLAS to overcome this challenge while providing a significant capability to our customers on US soil. It is significant because this project is entirely privately funded, which gives our US government and commercial customers a more affordable option for secure, resilient high speed connectivity to polar orbiting satellite missions. We look forward to expanding our network across the Quintillion subsea cable system, whenever we are able to leverage their Arctic presence and capabilities.”

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