GCI team makes big strides to close digital divide in rural Alaska
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – While much of the conversation around connectivity in the state has focused on high-profile mega projects, GCI’s Alaska Plan buildout – and the hard-working team that supports it – has taken big steps toward closing the digital divide in 2021, albeit with less fanfare. Approximately 27,500 Alaskans this year have benefitted from GCI’s aggressive internet and wireless network projects that have improved service in 17 rural communities.
This year, 11 communities now have faster wireless service through LTE upgrades, including Kodiak, Nome, Valdez, Kotzebue, Tok, Dillingham, Manokotak, Aleknagik, Clark’s Point, Becker Ridge, and Fritz Creek. Additionally, six communities have terrestrial internet service for the first time: Nikolai, Lime Village, Rampart, Central, Takotna, and Lake Minchumina.
“No matter if you’re dealing with the weather, travel logistics, supply chain issues, COVID-related safety protocols, or one of the dozens of other variables at play, building and improving networks in Alaska is challenging, even on its best day,” said Senior Director of GCI Regulatory Affairs Juliana Wayman. “Despite those challenges, our team wasn’t deterred. Carefully but efficiently navigating any roadblocks or red tape that came our way, we were able to get every site on time – some even a little ahead of schedule.”
Since 2016, 79,000 rural Alaskans in 105 communities have gained faster data speeds and improved broadband access because of GCI’s investments, which were supported by the Alaska Plan.
“At GCI, there’s no shortage of impactful projects that change the lives of Alaskans, and I’m proud to be part of a company and a team that puts significant focus on Alaska’s small, remote communities,” said Wayman. “In fact, this year we even brought new internet service to a community that’s home to a little more than 30 residents for the first time. That commitment to connecting all Alaskans, and not just cherry picking those in the state’s larger communities, is what GCI is all about.”
The Alaska Plan, adopted by the FCC in August 2016, provides federal funds to Alaska’s telecommunications providers in order to augment investment in rural wireless and internet service upgrades. Federal funding helps make rural investment and maintenance possible in extremely remote, costly, and difficult-to-serve communities. GCI, along with other Alaska providers, receives a portion of Alaska Plan funding each year.
“Meeting the deadlines of our aggressive Alaska Plan buildout schedule this year was truly a companywide effort. From permitting, leasing, and compliance to engineering, project management, and our techs on the ground, everyone stepped up to ensure the job got done,” said Senior Vice President of GCI Law & Corporate Advocacy and General Counsel Becky Windt Pearson. “With our dedicated team, we ensure GCI continues to be a good steward of federal funding, as we make investments where others either cannot or will not as we work to improve connectivity in a state unlike any other.”
For more information about GCI’s Alaska Plan investment, visit: https://www.gci.com/about/alaska-plan.
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 $3 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.