Pioneer Consulting’s team provided design, procurement, and project management support of the 60 km Crosslake Fibre subsea fiber optic cable project across Lake Ontario. Connecting Toronto, Canada, and Buffalo, New York, this subsea cable project was the first optical transmission to cross the North American Great Lake.
“The installation of the Lake Ontario subsea cable marks a great milestone that we were able to achieve with the aid and guidance of Pioneer Consulting as an expert resource,” said Mike Cunningham, CEO of Crosslake Fibre.
Pioneer Consulting was brought onboard to project manage and oversee Crosslake Fibre’s Lake Ontario subsea cable project. Using a disaggregated contracting approach, Pioneer worked closely with Crosslake Fibre to select the most qualified vendors and coordinate the specifications and timing for each component of the project. This included procurement and management of a desktop study, route engineering, marine survey, subsea and terrestrial cable installation, terrestrial permitting and construction, and project management oversight.
This submarine fiber optic telecommunications cable established a connection between Toronto, Canada, and Buffalo, New York. The project comprised a 60 km cable across Lake Ontario, tens of kilometers of terrestrial cable and a newly constructed hut to house in-line optical amplifiers and optical switching equipment in upstate New York.
Due to the dynamic nature of the project, Pioneer’s team had to adapt to meet the needs of an evolving project execution. Originally hired to handle only the marine portion, Crosslake Fibre recognized Pioneer’s unique skill-set and transitioned responsibility for the terrestrial and operations portions of the project to Pioneer as well. Eventually, Crosslake Fibre opted to consolidate project management and hired Pioneer to supervise all contractors.
Pioneer typically manages everything at and under the sea, “from beach to beach.” Unlike other projects, the Lake Ontario link required a portion of the cable to be installed over land in order to reach its final destination. Pioneer and Crosslake Fibre had to work closely together to manage significant terrestrial construction challenges typically not encountered in solely subsea cable installations.
Stringent permitting requirements also posed a challenge. With the project spanning two countries and multiple local jurisdictions in the state of New York, the proper permits were crucial to project success and completion. Special permits were also required from the New York Department of Environmental Conservation due to the cable crossing four wetlands and protected streams.
Additionally, having multiple independent contractors meant that the deadlines of specific deliverables were a constantly moving target. If one contractor ran into challenges or delays, Pioneer and Crosslake Fibre had to rearrange other elements of the project to adapt to the changes.
Crosslake Fibre enlisted Pioneer to support its vision of the Lake Ontario project across marine, terrestrial, and operational aspects, ensuring successful installation of the cable from beach-to-beach and beyond. The Pioneer team was able to provide supervisory oversight of all aspects, project managing the terrestrial portion of the project in both Canada and New York, to ensure successful completion.
The dynamic nature of the project meant many specific individual elements had to be addressed. Pioneer partnered closely with Crosslake Fibre to support managerial decisions both large and small. This allowed Pioneer to work directly with engineers on the ground and equip suppliers to install the client’s infrastructure.
As the Lake Ontario project progressed, its staffing requirements were fluid. Pioneer was able to quickly scale up and down to meet the needs of the installation process, managing more than two dozen contractors and providing over 30 subject-matter experts to deliver a complete solution for the project.
Without proper permitting, a cable project such as this one cannot be realized. Although permitting requirements varied between Canada and the United States, and even within various local jurisdictions within the state of New York, Pioneer ensured the necessary licensing and approvals were obtained by contracting specialists and overseeing them to meet deadlines.
Through a disaggregated approach, Pioneer was able to handle the dynamic aspects of the Lake Ontario project, while working closely with Crosslake Fibre to successfully complete the entire network implementation. The project was unique in that it eliminated about one-third of the distance by going under Lake Ontario, instead of installing longer cables on land. This created redundancy in the telecommunications system for internet service in the Buffalo/Ontario regions, improving overall access in those areas.
“The installation of the Lake Ontario subsea cable marks a great milestone that we were able to achieve with the aid and guidance of Pioneer Consulting as an expert resource,” said Mike Cunningham, CEO of Crosslake Fibre. “This was the first subsea fibre-optic cable to cross the North American lake, providing increased bandwidth and access to those in the Ontario and Buffalo regions. We could not be more pleased with its completion.”
The project was successfully completed in 2018 and once it concluded, Crosslake Fibre appointed Pioneer Consulting to project manage its UK-to-France CrossChannel Fibre project as well.