GCI celebrates arrival of final equipment shelter to support Aleutians fiber backbone
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project team hit a major milestone recently with the delivery of the final equipment shelter needed to support the flow of information throughout the Aleutians. While the deployment of the project’s 800+ miles of subsea fiber is impressive, these compact fiberglass structures are just as important. Without the shelters and network equipment packed within, the network couldn’t function.
Because the subsea fiber is unpowered, there are no undersea repeaters to keep the signal moving, so the backbone of the network is daisy chained together and the equipment housed in the shelters help rebroadcast and amplify the signal as it’s making its way up and down the chain.
“These shelters are absolutely critical pieces of the AU-Aleutians Fiber Project,” said GCI Project Manager Matthew Joyce. “If fiber acts as the information superhighway for information to flow at multigigabit speeds, these shelters are the vehicles that propel the data and direct it from one point to the next.”
Communities in the Aleutians will be connected to GCI fiber in one of two ways; either directly to the network’s fiber optic backbone or through a branching unit that breaks off from the main fiber and goes into a community. For the AU-Aleutians Fiber Project, five communities – Unalaska, King Cove, Sand Point, Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay – are connected to the backbone and Akutan is connected by a branching unit.
Those five communities connected directly to the fiber optic backbone are also key junctions ensuring the functionality of the Aleutians fiber network and is where GCI is putting especially high emphasis on reliability.
“These shelters aren’t a giant space, only measuring about 10 feet wide by 24 feet long, but every square foot is important and accounted for,” said Joyce. “For every system in the shelters there is a secondary, redundant piece of equipment. From power and HVAC to fiber switches and network monitoring hardware, there’s two of every piece of equipment in each of the AU-Aleutians backbone communities.”
Over the next few months, crews will be leapfrogging up the Aleutian Chain, starting in Unalaska, to install and configure equipment in the shelters and test each segment of AU-Aleutians subsea fiber. The project is scheduled to deliver urban-level speed, service and reliability for the first time to the communities of Unalaska and Akutan by the end of 2022, Sand Point and King Cove by the end of 2023, and Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay in late 2024.
The project is expected to cost $58 million. GCI was awarded a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect program in support of the project. The company will invest $33 million of its own capital to pay for project costs not covered by the ReConnect grant. More information about the project can be found at www.gci.com/aleutians.
Headquartered in Alaska, GCI provides data, mobile, video, voice and managed services to consumer, business, government, and carrier customers throughout Alaska, serving more than 200 communities. The company has invested more than $4 billion in its Alaska network and facilities over the past 40 years and recently launched true standards-based 5G NR service in Anchorage, now the nation’s northernmost 5G service area. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com. GCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Broadband Corporation (Nasdaq: LBRDA, LBRDK, LBRDP). Learn more about Liberty Broadband at http://www.libertybroadband.com.