2016 – In Review

In the face of declining oil prices and a statewide economic recession, North Slope Telecom has a lot of be grateful for in the last year!

2016 was a tough time for Alaskans, losing about 6,800 jobs and thereby netting the first annual jobs loss for the state since 2009 (Zak, Annie “2016 was bad for the Alaska job market. 2017 might be worse.” Alaska Dispatch News 5 Jan. 2017: www.adn.com Web. 8 Mar. 2017).  Then, in October of 2016, Alaska recorded the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 6.8% (DeMarban, Alex “Recession grips Alaska as employment losses hit new sectors” Alaska Dispatch News 2 Dec. 2016: www.adn.com Web. 8 Mar. 2017).

However, it is with great pride that NSTI announces that ZERO of the 6,800 lost Alaskan jobs belonged to NSTI employees. In fact, NSTI ended up with more employees at the end of 2016 than the beginning.

“Everyone who worked for NSTI at the beginning of 2016 and wished to maintain that employment, still had their job at the beginning of 2017; and we are very proud of that!” – David Smith, Vice President

NSTI can attribute some of that success to our focus on strategic diversification. By taking on new challenges, new clients and new types of work consistent with our core competencies, skills and values, we have expanded our market to keep our company healthy and whole during the economic downturn in our primary market, Alaskan Oil & Gas. 

Many of the ‘non-Oil & Gas’ projects we undertook in 2016 are in very, very remote locations; in some cases, hundreds of miles from the road system. Due to the secluded nature of these sites, NSTI employed the use of nearly a dozen different aircraft (including fixed wing and rotary) to transport crews and about 150 tons of airlifted materials, equipment and fuel. NSTI technicians worked on six isolated mountain top sites, most only accessible by helicopter. Working in these conditions require use of and experience with unconventional technologies such as Rapid Deployment Communications Systems (RDCS) foundations which required the use of 85,500 pounds of ballast. Of these remote sites, most are completely off grid. This required NSTI to engineer, provide and install complete, multi-faceted hybrid energy systems including: Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC), PV solar panels, DC generators, wind turbines and battery banks designed to withstand the extremely unforgiving environment of the Alaskan Interior. NSTI is pleased that some of this work resulted in bringing two separate villages broadband internet to their clinics and schools!

Another way we were able to grow in 2016 was by taking something we were already very good at and expanding the size/scope of the work we offered. For instance, NSTI has been known for installing high quality fiber optic communication networks throughout the state for decades. Now in 2016 we stepped into the ‘long-haul fiber’ market with a 125 mile fiber installation along the northern part of the Dalton Highway; successfully completing all 2016 project objectives ahead of schedule. 

North Slope Telecom recognizes and appreciates how fortunate we are to have the clients we do and look forward to the progression of these relationships. We are equally excited to form new connections and continue our contribution to a healthy economy in this great state!

Here’s to a tough, but nevertheless successful 2016 and to a safe and prosperous 2017!

Motorola WAVE Open House & BBQ – WIN 26 Glacier Cruise!

Motorola WAVE

Every Device. Every Network. Every Team.
Connected Like Never Before!

In an era where technologies are constantly evolving and becoming more sophisticated, staying current with industry trends requires a steadfast dedication. Communications is no exception and NSTI takes pride in their ability to stay ahead of those trends and utilize them to benefit their clients. Their commitment to innovation has earned the trust of valued customers and allowed NSTI to become the only Platinum level Motorola dealer in the state of Alaska. Obtaining Motorola’s highest dealership level ensures unmatched service and support.

Most recently, NSTI has developed the first fully operational WAVE Workgroup Communications system in the state of Alaska (the Municipality of Anchorage will be a close second with their cutting edge WAVE system expected to be fully operational soon). WAVE is a communications interoperability and broadband push‐to‐talk (PTT) solution that delivers real‐time voice and data securely over any network, using any device. From two‐way radios to smartphones, laptops to landlines, tablets to rugged handhelds, users can operate the devices they already have and the networks they already subscribe to and PTT with other teams and individuals both inside and outside of their communication system.

26 Glacier Cruise Prize

Great Alaskan Summer Door Prizes!

NSTI and Motorola are holding an open house at NSTI’s offices in Anchorage on Thursday, June 23rd to demonstrate the benefits of the WAVE system as well as the latest in mission critical P25 and MotoTRBO two way radios.

There will be demonstrations, games, and door prizes (including two 26 Glacier Cruise tickets)! And no NSTI event would be complete without a mouthwatering BBQ so bring your appetite!

For more information or directions, please call 907‐751‐8200. See you there!


ASTAC, AT&T and NSTI Deploy Broadband Cellular Network on the Edge of Exploration

Another successful partnership creating a successful project! 

<See original article from Alaska Business Monthly at: http://www.akbizmag.com/Telecom-Tech/ASTAC-deploys-broadband-cellular-network-on-the-edge-of-exploration/>


Oilfield camp workers at the Greater Mooses Tooth Unit in NPR-A now have 4G cell service, thanks to a partnership among Arctic Slope Telephone Cooperative Association, AT&T, and North Slope Telecom, Inc.

Anchorage, Alaska – Arctic Slope Telephone Cooperative Association (ASTAC) has teamed with AT&T and North Slope Telecom, Inc. to provide ice road crews and other workers superior connectivity in one of the most remote areas of the state. A development project in the Greater Mooses Tooth Unit of the National Petroleum Reserve – Alaska was announced this past November. Ice road construction to the development site began last month. ASTAC and the team erected a temporary 80-foot tower midway along the road to which ASTAC attached its cell site. The result – 4G cell service for the more than 150 camp workers who otherwise would only have been using hand held radios.

“Never before has this level of cellular service been available in such remote sites,” said ASTAC Director of Operations Jens Laipenieks. “It allows workers to stay in touch with friends and family, stream Pandora and most importantly, provides them improved safety. It’s great that ASTAC can lead the way for this unprecedented service.”

ASTAC is a member-owned telephone utility cooperative providing Internet, long distance and local services as well as data and transparent LAN to Prudhoe Bay and eight traditional villages across the North Slope. Its service area covers 90,000 square miles of the remote Arctic region.

For more information on ASTAC, visit: www.astac.net

FAQ: Evolving Intrinsic Safety Standards

What does Intrinsically Safe actually mean?

Electronics sometimes create tiny arcs or produce heat during normal operation; both of which could become an ignition source under the right circumstances. This likely doesn’t concern you unless, of course, you work in an area where tiny sparks can cause big explosions. In such a case, you have to use intrinsically safe radios… but what does that mean? Intrinsic Safety (IS) is an approved protection level for the safe operation of electronic equipment in explosive/hazardous locations by limiting the energy available for ignition. Basically that means a device labeled ‘Intrinsically Safe’ must be incapable of producing heat or a spark sufficient to ignite an explosive atmosphere. Manufacturers accomplish this by incorporating several considerations into the design process including the reduction or elimination of internal sparking, control of component temperatures and the elimination of component spacing that could allow dust to short a circuit. The device is then subjected to testing in which combinations of internal failures are inflicted. Only after it passes the ignition test with these imposed failures present can it be certified IS.

Why are the regulations changing?

As IS standards evolved, they did so geographically. The result? Eleven different standards for the same technology from eleven different agencies dependent entirely upon the part of the world you’re doing work in (see Figure 1).


Figure 1

As you might guess, this is not an ideal scenario for IS equipment manufacturers, end users, or the mutual advancement of technology. In an effort to make it easier to achieve global IS standards, the U.S. and Canada are adopting more stringent standards that are harmonious with international standards (IECEx/ATEX). It is important to note that there have been no safety issues found with the current standards; it was simply changed to help facilitate world trade without redundant testing and certification.

What changes are happening?

Factory Mutual (FM) released a more stringent standard (FM 3610_10) to harmonize with international standards. These new requirements impose a lower transmit power level and other restrictions that would mandate a costly redesign of all IS radios. Fortunately, ANSI/TIA-4950 was developed to provide a standalone set of IS standards specific to two way radios. ANSI/TIA-4950 is similar to the current standard (FM 361-1988) and radio manufacturers are now given the choice to design products to international standards or domestic standards. Motorola Solutions (among other manufacturers) is already transitioning to the new TIA standard with UL administering the compliance testing.

Who makes the regulations and who certifies them?

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop industry standards for communication technologies products. FM Approvals (FM) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) are both private companies that certify & test products as well as write standards. FM certifies equipment to FM standards while UL certifies to the new ANSI/TIA standards.

What does that mean for you?

Radio manufacturers can no longer manufacture devices to FM 361-1988 standards after December 31, 2015. FM approval label will change to a UL approval label on IS devices/batteries. FM approved radios in the field will maintain approval status (provided any repairs are done at an FM audited site). Motorola will also continue to sell FM replacement batteries and accessories. All new UL certified devices are approved for operation in the same areas as the previous FM certification allowed.

IMPORTANT: Your current inventory of FM radios, batteries and accessories will not be interchangeable with their new UL counterparts. This will create confusion when swapping batteries or accessories in the field; equipment should be clearly labeled/distinguished or kept separate. Many companies are stocking up on FM equipment to prevent this potential mismatching. 

Summary/next steps?

Safety certification standards in North American Class I/Div I areas are gradually moving to harmonize with more stringent international standards. This is to simplify global trading, NOT because there were any safety issues with the previous standards. Many LMR manufacturers will be adopting the new ANSI/TIA-4950 standards, which are similar to the previous FM standards, and will be utilizing UL for testing and certification. Keep this in mind when ordering and receiving radio equipment. Many customers have been specifying ‘FM Approved’ radios on their POs; instead you should begin specifying ‘Intrinsically Safe’ radios to avoid confusion. FM batteries/accessories are NOT interchangeable with new UL radios. If you need more FM radios to utilize your inventory of FM batteries & accessories, they will need to be ordered (and shipped by the manufacturer) prior to the discontinuation date of December 31, 2015. If you have any questions or would like additional information; please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Platinum MC-PCR-FED-Color

35th Anniversary Customer Appreciation BBQ!

Telecommunications Systems | North Slope Telecom

Door prizes include two seats on a full day halibut charter and a scenic round trip between Anchorage and Seward on the Alaska Railroad for two!!!

**Must Be Present To Win**


Thirty five years ago, Alaska needed a telecommunications contractor that not only understood the conventions on the oil industry but could also effectively engineer, install and configure mission critical communication systems to operate reliably in the face of the world’s harshest environments and most remote locations. William “Bill” Laxson accepted that challenge and North Slope Telecom was born. 

Join us for great food and fantastic door prizes to celebrate our 35th Anniversary!

Thursday, June 25th

11am – 1:30pm

2020 E Dowling Rd.

Anchorage, Alaska


We will be showing our appreciation for everyone that has helped make us successful over the past thirty five years by offering a chance to win one of two uniquely Alaskan trips (and of course, free food!!) just for showing up. Bring your business card to put in the bucket and be automatically entered to win both trips (see below for details).

You must be present to win so don’t miss it!

Lots of fishes | North Slope Telecom | Alaska

Win two seats on a full day halibut charter from Ninilchik Charters. A quick Google search will show their reputation for success when it comes to finding fish!

Alaska Railroad

Win a scenic round trip between Anchorage and Seward on the Alaska Railroad for two and experience some of the most breathtaking landscapes Alaska has to offer!

35 years is just the beginning and we look forward to serving our customers for decades to come – because at North Slope Telecom, Progress Never Stops!” – Dave Smith, VP

35th Anniversary North Slope Telecom

Lloyd Raines Finishes Moose’s Tooth Marathon 1st in Division

Lloyd Raines - Marathon Finish

Please join North Slope Telecom in congratulating our Safety Manger, Lloyd Raines, for finishing the Moose’s Tooth Marathon 1st in his Division (Male 55-59) and 4th overall with a finish time of 02:57:42!

Finishing a marathon in under three hours is no small feat and requires relentless training and dedication; the same dedication that he demonstrates on a daily basis to our safety program.

Lloyd also ran the Boston Marathon earlier this year (April 21st, 2014) finishing in the top 2% of his division and top 10% overall with a finish time of 03:07:27.

Your dedication and commitment demonstrated by these accomplishments are truly an inspiration, keep it up!


5th Annual Customer Appreciation BBQInvitation



Don’t miss our 5th Annual Customer Appreciation BBQ!

We always look forward to this annual event, not only for the exceptional food but for the incredible people we share it with. This always proves to be a great time for all involved; stay tuned for pictures to be posted after the event!

UPDATE: The event was a success!! Fun times, great food and lots of laughs were had by all… of course this is to be expected from an NSTI event.

Thanks to all who came and we look forward to the next!

Celebrating an Incident Free Culture!

Family Portrait

North Slope Telecom, Inc recently celebrated two significant safety milestones; One Million Hours with No Lost Time Injuries and Five Years with No Recordable Injuries!

These milestones are especially significant considering the work NSTI does and the environments we do it in. For example, climbing a communications tower in sub-zero weather on a mountain top only accessible by helicopter is just another day at the office for one of our techs.

Safety is held paramount in all phases of NSTI’s project lifecycle as we strive for an Incident Free Culture.

“Our employees work hard and take safety seriously.  These accomplishments are a direct result of that.  It makes me proud to have all of them as members of our team.” – Dave Smith, Vice President

We believe these accomplishments are cause for celebration; so celebrate we did!

Communications for Volunteer Mountain Rescue Team

Community involvement and socially responsible business ethics are core values at NSTI. For example, we are proud to be a long-term sponsor of the non-profit Alaska Mountain Rescue Group (AMRG).

This group of trained volunteers has been providing backcountry search and rescue services for Alaskans since 1960. Two-way radio communications are an essential part to their operations and NSTI is currently providing narrowband migration and FCC licensing support to the group. This includes the donation of a custom mobile VHF repeater to enable emergency communications for several days without external power as well as a base station designed to maximize interoperability between resources from different agencies who respond to a large-scale incident.

The FCC narrowband mandate requires that all freqency spectrum users licensed for industrial/business and public safety operations must transition to a narrowband system by Janurary 1, 2013. NSTI will also perform the required reprogramming of all portable (handheld) radios used by AMRG volunteers.

During the holiday season, enjoy the beautiful winter and share with those who are less fortunate. For a list of local non-profit organizations that need your support go to the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Charitable Giving Program. Happy Holidays!

32 Years of Arctic Oilfield Exploration

We are gearing up for another busy winter of oilfield exploration and ice road communications support. Since 1980, our company has provided reliable communications for resource development operations in the most remote and extreme environments, both inland and offshore.

North Slope Telecom, Inc. has completed the engineering for a 35-mile microwave link across the Arctic that will carry VoIP phone and network circuits to new exploratory drill sites. Digital 2-way mobile radio communications will be put in place to enable seamless communications through remote territory that has no other existing infrastructure. In addition, a C-Band satellite system is used to carry commercial cellular network service to the construction and drilling camps.

Comm Relay 1Comm Relay 1

When temperatures drop to minus 40 degrees and the sun disappears below the horizon for two months, our technicians will be in the field to install communication towers and equipment shelters, test circuits and perform commissioning of all systems. The winter months are the only time when ice and snow protects the delicate tundra and allows equipment to be transported without permanent roads. To relate to the unique conditions we successfully operate in, try building a LEGO castle while sitting in your chest freezer with the lid closed. Don’t forget to bring your headlamp and remember that inside the freezer it is nice and warm compared to the windy North Slope of Alaska in December.

For over 30 years we have consistently demonstrated the know-how to do the job, and the right attitude to do it safely, while dealing with adverse conditions. With the expertise of our employees we deliver success year after year wherever you need communication solutions.

Comm Relay 1Comm Relay 1