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The Internet United States

From the Arctic's Melting Ice, an Unexpected Digital Hub (nytimes.com) 67

Cecilia Kang, reporting for the New York Times: This is one of the most remote towns in the United States, a small gravel spit on the northwest coast of Alaska, more than 3,700 miles from New York City. Icy seas surround it on three sides, leaving only an unpaved path to the mainland. Getting here from Anchorage, about 700 miles away, requires two flights. Roads do not connect the two places. Basics like milk and bread are delivered by air, and gas is brought in by barge during the summer. Needless to say, this is not the sort of place you expect to be a hub of the high-tech digital world. But in a surprising, and bittersweet, side effect of global warming -- and of the global economy -- one of the fastest internet connections in America is arriving in Point Hope, giving the 700 or so residents their first taste of broadband speed. The new connection is part of an ambitious effort by Quintillion, a five-year old company based in Anchorage, to take advantage of the melting sea ice to build a faster digital link between London and Tokyo. High-speed internet cables snake under the world's oceans, tying continents together and allowing email and other bits of digital data sent from Japan to arrive quickly in Britain. Until recently, those lines mostly bypassed the Arctic, where the ice blocked access to the ships that lay the cable. But as the ice has receded, new passageways have emerged, creating a more direct path for the cable -- over the earth's northern end through places like the Chukchi Sea -- and helping those emails move even move quickly. Quintillion is one of the companies laying the new cable, and Point Hope is one of the places along its route.

From the Arctic's Melting Ice, an Unexpected Digital Hub

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  • FTA: "But as the ice has receded, new passageways have emerged..."

    Nonsens! The ice is not receding. Long live oil!

  • by Not-a-Neg ( 743469 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @09:53AM (#55671913)

    The difference this year compared to the past century of ship travel through the NorthEast and NorthWest passage(s) is that this was the first year ships could travel through without needing ice breaker ships to lead them. The reduced cost is resulting in an increase of commercial traffic which I'm sure won't have any negative impact on global warming. ;)

    • by trg83 ( 555416 )
      The more direct paths will likely lead to each ship burning less diesel per trip. More trips due to the ease is just an unfortunate side effect.
  • Great, they will discover Prime and bankrupt Amazon.

  • The new connection [...] to build a faster digital link between London and Tokyo.

    Forget the emails, we all know what this is about: faster streaming of tentacle porn in UHD! Fuck ya!

  • emails? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SpaceCracker ( 939922 ) on Monday December 04, 2017 @10:11AM (#55671991)

    Nobody cares if emails take another couple of milliseconds.
    Reducing latency for transactions on financial markets is another story.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    to build a faster digital link between London and Tokyo

    So this is for high frequency trading. The plebs will get whatever scraps fall from the mouths of the quants.

  • Less than 700 people in the place. 12:10 male:female ratio. It's small, and there's nowhere else anywhere nearby. It's dark, and cold, and more or less in the middle of a cold ocean. There isn't enough food (at least if you want a modern diet - not sure about living off fish). Median income is ~US60K, but you know the cost of living is going to be nasty.

    Why does Point Hope still exist? You'd think there'd be a small military outpost if anything.

    • I bet there's plenty of blue king crab, if the residents get subsistence permits. I don't hear much about commercial fishing that's allowed that far North, but Norton Sound Seafood advertises king crab, halibut, and salmon. Doubtless cod, pollock, and several varieties of sole could also be found, and there's caribou meat. Couple that with what could be grown in a wind farm supplied greenhouse, and you could have a healthy diet. City law does prohibit the sale or possession of alcoholic beverages, which mak
      • >Couple that with what could be grown in a wind farm supplied greenhouse

        My first thought, honestly, was that they apparently import a lot of bread and milk (presumably at great expense)... so why not go with goat milk over cow milk and have an indoor farm? Goats eat pretty much anything, so if you can grow anything without too much power for heat and extra light, you're golden.

        On the other hand, I doubt they have the money to build a giant indoor insulated and lit farm just for some goat milk.

        It's one o

        • If you look at this site [tikigaq.com] and this one [north-slope.org], you'll see that the residents out there are mostly all native Alaskans and that they've been living in that location for 2500 years. I expect for most residents, living there is part of who they are, and they would no more want to move South than you would want to move North. The ocean does moderate the cold. The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] says that the average coldest temp of the year is about minus eight Fahrenheit, so not as cold as the annual cold temps in winter in New Yor
    • I found a Comprehensive Plan [north-slope.org] document:

      Point Hope’s location is known as one of the best locations in Alaska’s arctic for year-round hunting on
      the ice. Due to the deep water near the shore, leads open along the beach during both the winter and
      spring, guiding an abundance of whales, seals, and walrus close to the shore. Access to these resources
      has allowed the Tikigagmiut to live on the Tigara Peninsula continuously for thousands of years.
      Archaeological sites provide evidence of an over 2,000 year

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I remember back in the 80's, I had dial up would send emails to a friend in DC (other side of the continent) who also had dial up and get a response back in seconds. I can only imagine what a faster system would be like. Maybe get responses before I send anything.

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      This cable is being built in order to facilitate the high speed trading scam where financial firms "front run" trades to profit from getting their order into the stock exchange a few milliseconds faster than plebs. This should be illegal but since there is great profit for a few, the practice continues.
      The side effect of giving some remote location better Internet access is tolerable as long as it doesn't slow down the high speed trading scam.

  • so, what happens when the sea level rises? or a tsunami? Are they building it on stilts?

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