At face value, Quintillion is a wholesale broadband provider based in Anchorage, Alaska. It supplies a fast, secure, and reliable internet connection that links America’s northernmost state to the rest of the world. However, the truth is so much more than that. Quintillion is the first and only telecom company to build a fiber-optic cable network in the U.S. Arctic, which is currently in the process of being expanded into Asia and Europe. In doing so, it’s providing a vital “information highway” that advances local, commercial, and government interests in this very strategic part of the world.
A visionary project requires a visionary marketing strategy. After all, infrastructure is only great if stakeholders – communities, corporations, and governments – actually know about it. Quintillion engaged Alaskan marketing agency Beacon Media + Marketing in 2020. We interviewed its Chief Marketing Officer, Jennifer Christensen, to find out how Quintillion is making a global impact.
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An Alaska Broadband Company Like None Other
Quintillion operates on three frontiers: locally in Alaska, internationally in Asia and Europe, and globally in space. It’s a complex company that uses complicated systems to execute equally complicated projects. It’s difficult to describe in a nutshell – our team can (and often does) talk about the technical details all day. That’s fine when it comes to dealing with contractors, consultants, and government departments. However, it can be harder to translate the impact of what we’re doing when we’re talking to members of the public and potential investors.
In, Out, Up: Three Small Words Make All the Difference
Thus, the search for a tagline began. It needed to be concise. It needed be catchy. And it needed to summarize the size and scale of Quintillion’s operations in a way that makes sense. In the end, those three little words – In, Out, Up – came from Mac McHale, Quintillion’s President.
“He had it right there in one of his presentations,” says Christensen. “It wasn’t their tagline at the time, but when we heard it we thought, ‘This is it!’ What Quintillion does is so complex, but this creates a visual that people can understand. We fleshed it out and used it to create the brand.”
Quintillion’s marketing strategy now boils down to this:
- In: Expanding throughout Alaska, providing affordable broadband to help the state reach its potential. This is positively impacting communities, families, and individuals across the state, including a number of schools, which are now able to access the internet for the first time.
- Out: Connecting Asia and Europe through the Arctic. Alaska is a very strategic location for commercial and government interests. As such, secure and reliable internet access plays a critical role in advancing and protecting America’s economic and military interests.
- Up: Supporting space operations. If you weren’t already on board, this is where things get really exciting. Quintillion operates the northernmost satellite ground station in North America, which brings polar-orbiting satellite data to the U.S. at breathtaking speeds.
“On a personal level, I had been following Quintillion and its progress for a number of years before we started working together,” says Christensen. “When Mac first approach us, the team was looking for a marketing firm that understood Alaska, and could speak the language of Alaska, but was also working on a national level. We understood immediately that the strategy would be about serving Alaskans first, but also sharing the story of how Quintillion impacts the U.S. and the world.”
From Wholesale Broadband to National Security
The first big marketing goal of this partnership focused on Alaska. Quintillion is a proudly U.S. owned and operated company and it plays a vital role in stories unfolding all over the state. For example, the company’s subsea cable recently allowed the 4,000 residents of Utqiagvik, which is America’s northernmost city, to tap into some of the fastest internet in the world. It’s a game-changer for this remote community and just one of the amazing local Alaskan stories that has come to light.
“We wanted to show that Quintillion has a strong team in Alaska that cares about Alaskan interests,” says Christensen. “We’re building up Quintillion’s online presence through a new website, social media, and blogs. We’re also writing whitepapers to establish it as a local thought leader. But a big part of the plan is investing in local communities and things that local communities care about, connecting with local stakeholders, and really listening to what they have to say. From that, we could start telling the story of what Quintillion is trying to accomplish and how it benefits Alaskans.”
Growth ramped up to another level in 2022. When Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February, it prompted high-level conversations about national security and cast a spotlight on the strategic importance of the North. Quintillion’s cable landing station is critical for national security. On top of that, the new Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill has seen a lot of money pouring into Alaska for things such as high-speed internet and new ports, which of course will need secure communications.
“It’s a big deal,” says Christensen. “This year, the scope has become so much wider. We’re not just talking about Alaska anymore, how these things affect the U.S. on a strategic level and how we can connect to some of our allies, like Japan and Europe, through the Arctic.”
Marketing Alaska to the World, One Step at a Time
There are two sides to Quintillion’s brand positioning in the global satellite industry. First is the national security part; second is the commercial part. Quintillion’s satellite ground station receives secure data for both and its positioning gives it an enormous advantage. Its high latitude means it receives more data than any other ground station in the U.S. every time the earth rotates.
On top of that, given its location in Utqiagvik, on the northern edge of the continent right on the Arctic Ocean, there will never be a higher satellite ground station in America. Quintillion’s team does the heavy lifting from a sales perspective, operating in the world of strategic relationships and big-business requests for proposals. This critical work is supported by Beacon Media + Marketing through slick branding, succinct messaging, captivating graphics, and professional presentations.
“Interestingly, and I will say this has been fascinating, we’ve seen a huge uptick in Quintillion’s blogs and social media,” says Christensen. “The number of people reading these highly technical blogs are high-level decision-makers, so we know we’re reaching the right target market. Normally we wouldn’t recommend taking such a technical approach in the content we’re putting out, but people are staying on the website up to 10 minutes at a time. They’re really reading and learning about Quintillion’s capabilities, and their LinkedIn has gone up 1,500 percent since we started.”
Quintillion is growing rapidly, hiring people in Japan and other places so they can have boots on the ground. Christensen explain this part of the journey is about attending the right conferences, talking to the right people, having the right material, and building the right relationships. From a digital perspective, this is being supported by adding languages to marketing communications, as well as more videos on the website, to ensure there’s plenty of content suitable for a global audience.
Bringing a Visionary Telecommunications Project to Life
Quintillion is still a relatively young company, but it has achieved an incredible amount in just a few short years. It has connected thousands of Alaskan people, transports an estimate 30 terabytes of data every day, and has invested some $300 million into Alaskan communities and businesses.
The subsea and terrestrial network it has built comprises of more than 1,700 miles of fiber-optic cable, which has been designed to withstand the harshest conditions in the world. The next step is to expand the network to connect the three continents adjacent to the Arctic. Phase two will connect Alaska to Japan and Asia-Pacific. Phrase three will connect Alaska to Canada and Europe.
And then, of course, there’s Quintillion’s space operations. The ground station, operated in partnership with ATLAS Space Operations, provides a secure and vital link between space communications and American soil, which will only become more important in the future.
“This is a bold company with a bold vision,” says Christensen. “I’m proud to tell that story.”
Want to learn more about Quintillion’s vision for the future? Contact the team today.