News | June 7, 1999

Touch America Completes Fiber-Optic Link From Spokane to Boise

Montana Power Co. subsidiary Touch America (Butte, MT) has finished building its 500-mile, $50 million fiber-optic network link between Spokane, WA and Boise, ID. The link will be operational this month and will be accepting commercial traffic.

The company said the route will provide opportunities for its local multi-point distribution service (LMDS) licenses acquired at federal auction and will increase reliability on the company's 10,000-mile fiber-optic network.

The Spokane-Boise link connects Touch America's Chicago-Seattle route with the company's Seattle-Los Angeles inland route that goes through Boise; Salt Lake City, UT; and Las Vegas. A planned expansion from Salt Lake City to Denver, scheduled for service in 2000, will create additional SONET rings with Touch America's route from the Alberta, Canada border to Denver, which also connects to the Chicago-Seattle link.

The link from Spokane to Boise also creates rings of fiber optics for Touch America and will provide instant restoration of service and increased reliability for the company's 10,000-mile backbone fiber-optic network, especially in regards to its Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain segments. Fully redundant synchronous optical network (SONET) architecture has at least two counter-rotating rings between any two points on a network. If fiber is accidentally cut or fails, traffic can be rerouted instantaneously in another direction and is undetectable to customers.

The segment could add new service possibilities over time to Cheney, Colfax, Pullman, Clarkston, Walla Walla, and the tri-cities of Richland, Pascoe, and Kennewick, WA; La Grande and Ontario, OR; and Moscow and Lewiston, ID. The company has LMDS licenses for most of these cities that can be served from the new fiber-optic route as well. The licenses cover the surrounding areas of Spokane, the tri-cities area of Kennewick-Pasco-Richland, and Walla-Walla, WA and Boise-Napa and Lewistown-Moscow, ID.