GCI celebrates year of remarkable progress for Aleutians Fiber Project
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — It’s been a big year for GCI’s Aleutians Fiber Project, with project crews surpassing milestone after milestone throughout 2023. GCI’s Aleutians Fiber Project is a two-phase, more than $100 million project that will deliver 2.5 gig residential internet speeds, unlimited data and urban prices to a dozen communities in the region.
With Unalaska’s first residential fiber customers coming online in late December 2022, project crews carried that momentum into 2023. After the deployment of a brand-new local fiber-to-the-premises network was complete, GCI’s urban-level internet speeds were available throughout the community in March.
“Building out fiber to Unalaska was an extremely ambitious idea and figuring out how to best connect such a remote island community was a challenge,” said GCI Chief Communications Officer Heather Handyside. “One thing was abundantly clear: the residents of Unalaska needed and deserved better. Now, fiber optic-connectivity has come to Unalaska, where residents are getting the same speed, data and pricing that we offer to our Anchorage customers.”
With GCI customers in Unalaska using the new, urban-level internet speeds, crews have continued their march up the Aleutian Chain in 2023. Project teams hit the ground running in Sand Point, King Cove and Akutan, building out cutting-edge fiber networks throughout each community.
“Our teams are pushing hard to do their part in bringing digital equity to the Aleutians,” said GCI Principal Program Manager Rebecca Markley. “Navigating everything from global supply chain issues and inclement weather to ferocious seas and volcanic eruptions, our crews have delivered access to 2.5 gig residential internet speeds to approximately 4,800 Alaskans so far this year and will deliver the lightning-fast service to even more in the coming months.”
GCI connected clinics and schools to fiber in Sand Point, King Cove and Akutan in July and launched 2.5 gig residential internet throughout Sand Point in late November. Urban-level internet speeds and unlimited data are expected to launch in King Cove and Akutan in early 2024.
“It has only been a couple weeks since 2.5 gig residential internet speeds launched in Sand Point, but residents are already seeing a big difference,” said GCI Chief Marketing Officer Kate Slyker. “We’re working hard to get as many Sand Point residents connected as possible and we’re eagerly awaiting the opportunity to bring this game-changing service to customers in King Cove and Akutan.”
As the first phase of the Aleutians Fiber Project approaches its halfway point, planning and preparation is already ramping up for the project’s second phase. Crews completed site surveys for cable landing stations in the six phase two communities, including Chignik Lagoon, Chignik Lake, Cold Bay, False Pass, Ouzinkie and Port Lions.
“We’re excited to have boots on the ground in Port Lions and the rest of the project’s phase two communities,” said Native Village of Port Lions Administrator Denise May. “The new, high-speed connectivity is going to be transformational for our communities. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but we’re excited to work closely with GCI to make the process as efficient as possible.”
“When broadband comes to the region, people are not only going to be able to access everything that it offers and have the world at their fingertips, but they’re also going to be able to bring themselves, their culture, their experiences and their economies to the rest of the world,” said GCI Rural Affairs Director Jenifer Nelson. “It’s truly going to be life changing.”
The first phase of the more than $100 million project is partially funded by a $27.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development’s ReConnect Program. It includes an 800-mile-long subsea fiber-optic backbone, deployed in 2022, and the delivery of high-speed internet to Unalaska, King Cove, Sand Point, Akutan, Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay.
The second phase of the project leverages the 800-mile subsea fiber to deliver to six more communities in the region. The Native Village of Port Lions, in partnership with GCI, was awarded a $29.3 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to bring connectivity to Chignik Lagoon, Chignik Lake, Cold Bay, False Pass, Ouzinkie and Port Lions.
For more information about the Aleutians Fiber Project, visit: https://www.gci.com/aleutianfiberproject.
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.