Connectivity during COVID-19: PCMag shines spotlight on Alaska internet speeds
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – As more employees started working from home and students adapted to distance education and virtual classrooms due to COVID-19, questions were raised about whether America’s internet infrastructure could stand up to the test. According to PCMag, citing a study by WhistleOut, the answer was a resounding yes, with internet speeds across the nation increasing overall – and Alaska among the country’s leaders.
WhistleOut’s study found that Alaska’s internet speed has grown roughly 40% during the pandemic, which is second only to Wyoming, which experienced a 52% increase. Data from PCMag backs up WhistleOut’s findings.
“According to our Fastest ISPs of 2020 report, Alaska was helped by Anchorage's GCI Communications increasing to a record-breaking 134 PCMag Speed Index (PSI), which incorporates 80 percent of the download speed with 20 percent of the upload speed,” according to the PCMag article. “It may also be worth noting that small towns in each of these states were shown to have fast internet for remote workers.”
Kenai was highlighted earlier this year by PCMag as one of America’s most-affordable small towns with fast internet for remote workers, due in large part to GCI’s 1 GIG internet speeds. GCI has been named by PCMag as Alaska’s fastest ISP for five-straight years.
GCI is the largest provider of 1 GIG connectivity in Alaska, providing 1 GIG access to more 77% of Alaskans across the state — many of which are considered rural or remote by most national standards. GCI developed a series of short, quirky videos to better illustrate just how far off the beaten path some of Alaska’s 1 GIG communities can be.
“Early on, our team considered the impact the pandemic might have if COVID-19 spread to the U.S.” said Chris Mace, GCI Chief Engineer and Vice President of Network Services. “Anticipating increased network traffic due to our customers working and learning from home, we made investments in equipment and software to increase network capacity. These investments paid off. In March and April, traffic on GCI’s network surged—at times 44% more than normal activity. Because we were able to predict, to a certain degree, the additional need for connectivity, our network continued to operate efficiently and predictably despite the tremendous increase.”
In addition to adding capacity earlier this year on its fiber-optic network connecting Alaska to the Lower 48, GCI technicians closely monitor networks 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to accommodate any spikes in usage while many Alaskans work or attend classes from home.
To ease the transition to working from home and attending classes virtually this past spring, GCI paved the way for more Alaskans to be connected than ever before. In the early months of the pandemic, GCI offered free internet plan upgrades for existing customers, free basic internet plans for households without GCI internet, and free entry-level internet access for students and teachers. GCI also signed on the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected” pledge to ease the financial burden for Alaskans and small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
GCI provides data, mobile, video, voice and managed services to consumer and business customers throughout Alaska. GCI has delivered services for nearly 40 years to some of the most remote communities and in some of the most challenging conditions in North America. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com. GCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of GCI Liberty, Inc. (Nasdaq: GLIBA, GLIBP). Learn more about GCI Liberty at www.gciliberty.com.