It's about to get real: GCI crews in Unalaska prepare to begin groundwork for AU-Aleutians Fiber Project
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Crews will soon begin construction on Unalaska's local network in preparation to connect to GCI's 800+ mile subsea optic fiber. Materials to deliver fiber-optic connectivity directly to homes and businesses have begun to arrive on the island and, now that permits have been approved, GCI crews are ready to start digging.
So far, more than 405,000 feet of conduit, which will protect and house the fiber optic cable in the ground, have arrived in Unalaska in preparation for the project. An additional 124,000 feet of conduit will be delivered. By the time groundwork in Unalaska is complete, crews will have installed more than 529,000 feet of conduit on the island.
"Now that we have approved permits, our crews will begin trenching along roadsides and easements in the community, placing the conduit as we go," said John Burnett, Senior Program Manager for GCI's AU-Aleutians Fiber Project. "Once the conduit is installed, we'll be able to pull the fiber optic cable through the duct and branch out directly to homes and other buildings throughout the area in preparation for delivering fiber-based internet service to our customers."
GCI received final permits Sept. 14 for this phase of the project and trenching will commence Oct. 11.
The GCI team is mindful that the project is built upon Tribal lands and has retained cultural monitors to be involved for the duration of the project. Cultural monitors serve as on-site archeologists who are available for consultation in case any artifacts or items of historical importance are unearthed during the project.
"As someone who grew up in King Cove, I know how important this project will be for the region," said Jenifer Nelson, Senior Manager of GCI Rural Affairs. "And while we're looking forward to the transformational change it will bring, it will be our priority to preserve the long-standing culture and history of the UnangaxÌ‚ and Alutiiq Alaska Native people who have called the region home for millennia."
In addition to having cultural monitors onsite, GCI recently contributed $5,000 to the Museum of the Aleutians to help make its collection available to a wider community by developing additional web content, including a story map of the prehistoric and historic archaeological sites in the Aleutians, and museum teacher kits to aid teachers, parents and visitors in teaching and learning Aleutians history and culture.
The AU-Aleutians Fiber 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 $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.