Subsea fiber arrives in Unalaska for GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – After completing its over 12,000-mile intercontinental journey from Germany, the subsea fiber for GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project has arrived in Unalaska! The 800+ miles of fiber are the foundation of the project, which will close the digital divide and bring transformative 2 gigabit residential internet speeds to some of the most remote communities in the nation, including Unalaska.
Later this week, the crew aboard the C/S Intrepid will start deploying the hundreds of miles of fiber, starting in Unalaska. While enroute to Larsen Bay, on Kodiak Island, C/S Intrepid will stop in Akutan, Sand Point, King Cove, and Chignik Bay during the voyage. GCI expects to complete its subsea fiber deployment by early fall.
“To realize that we’re only about 800 miles away from having the backbone infrastructure in place to deliver urban-level connectivity to some of the most-remote communities in the nation is incredibly exciting,” said GCI Chief Communications Officer Heather Handyside. “This project has been years in the making, and thanks to the hard work of dozens of GCI staff and the steadfast support of residents and leaders in these six communities, we’re closer than ever to effectively closing the digital divide in the Aleutians.”
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. GCI crews and contractors carefully surveyed the planned route, taking special precautions to ensure the safety and maintain the integrity of Alaska’s ecosystems and cultural resources. Throughout the fiber laying process, onboard marine biologists will monitor animal activities, including migration patterns, fishing grounds and mammal groups.
Over the next two years, additional crews will be on the ground preparing each community for the installation of fiber to the premises, giving the six AU-Aleutians communities some of the most-advanced network infrastructure in the nation. 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.
“I feel like a broken record, but the impact the Aleutian Fiber Project will have can’t be emphasized enough,” said GCI Rural Affairs Director Jenifer Nelson. “GCI has worked for decades to deliver the best-possible connectivity solutions to our customers and is committed to bringing fiber, the gold standard of connectivity, wherever possible. This level of connectivity is truly life changing and will empower the residents of these communities to engage with the state, the nation and the world like never before.”
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.