GCI’s 2022 TERRA refuel project crosses halfway point
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – With help from local contractors with specialized helicopters, crews have refueled 14 of GCI’s 22 remote mountaintop repeaters. Only reachable by helicopter, the towers are key pieces of the company’s 3,300-mile-long Terrestrial for Every Rural Region in Alaska (TERRA) network and must remain operational and self-sufficient for months at a time.
Once the annual project is complete, GCI crews will have made more than 200 round trips to deliver approximately 106,000 gallons of diesel fuel to these remote sites. The refueling effort is critical to keep 45,000 Alaskans in 84 rural communities connected.
“Aside from a few minor delays due to inclement weather, which is to be expected, this year’s refueling effort has gone smoothly and we expect to wrap up the project this fall with time to spare,” said Senior Director of GCI Facilities & Rural Network Operations JD Schultz. “Operating in some of Alaska’s most-remote areas is challenging, but by working closely with local partners, like Bering Air, we’re able to ensure both the safety of our crews and of the pristine wilderness in which we work.”
As GCI builds and maintains its network and infrastructure, including the refueling effort at these remote towers, the company takes special precautions to ensure the safety of Alaska’s ecosystem. Flights are planned for certain times of year to avoid interfering with things like caribou migrations and subsistence hunting. During the TERRA refuel, helicopters fly at least 1,500 feet above the ground, weather permitting, to minimize disturbances to wildlife. And if there are caribou or other animals visible near the site, crews will adjust flight routes to avoid contact.
Each mountaintop repeater site has one or two 4,500-gallon tanks. Arctic diesel fuel is hauled in between 410 and 440 gallons at a time by helicopter. Refueling each site takes as many as 16 different trips up the mountain.
GCI purchases the fuel from Alaska companies and works with local businesses throughout the process. GCI expects the annual refueling project to be complete by mid-October.
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.