GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project will shore up the region’s aviation safety systems
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Unpredictable. It’s a word that often describes many aspects of living in the Aleutians, whether you’re talking about the weather, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, where the king crab are hiding, or whether your flight to Anchorage will take off on time – or at all. That’s why GCI has partnered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for well over a decade to add predictability to air travel through the agency’s remote weather camera program. The program will get another layer of reliability with delivery of fiber-based broadband service through the AU-Aleutians Fiber Project slated to deliver service in Unalaska later this year.
Perched on communications towers and other structures across Alaska, the FAA’s 960 weather cameras feed live images 24/7 to the agency’s website and show aviators valuable weather data and airport information at each location. Weather-related aviation incidents have reduced by 85% since the program began nearly 15 years ago.
“We can’t control the weather, but we can help pilots in the region access real-time weather information,” said Senior Manager of GCI Rural Network Operations & Maintenance Jeremiah Johnson. “This data helps pilots chart the safest flight plan, which is critical while flying in the Aleutians where the weather is notoriously unpredictable. As our crews travel throughout the region to build GCI’s Aleutian Fiber Project, it’s reassuring that we can rely on real-time weather information to help ensure our technicians arrive safely.”
“Not only do these remote cameras help pilots identify anything from inclement weather to clouds of volcanic ash that may impact whether or not they decide to fly, they also can also play a key role in monitoring other natural disasters,” said GCI Government Program Director Kent Dumas. “In the Aleutians specifically, situated alongside the ring of fire with active volcanos and frequent seismic activity, these cameras can give us a first glimpse of the impact of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, or even tsunamis. These cameras play a key role not just in aviation safety, but in overall safety and disaster recovery in the region.”
The AU-Aleutians Fiber Project will run approximately 800 miles from Kodiak along the south side of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians to Unalaska. The project is scheduled to deliver urban-level speed, service and reliability for the first time to Unalaska 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.
To view the FAA weather cameras, visit https://weathercams.faa.gov/.
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.