GCI, Alaska’s largest telecommunications company, on May 18 announced it will deliver 2 gig internet access to 77% of Alaskans in 2022, and is on track to provide 10 gig speeds in the next five years.
GCI contends will be the first in the state, and among the first in the country, to make 2 gig widely available to customers, highlighting its commitment to expand and improve connectivity in Alaska. GCI notes it was among the first companies in the nation to make 1 gig service broadly available to customers when it launched its 1 GIG red service in Anchorage in 2015, quadrupling customer speeds. The company rapidly expanded access to 1 gig service, and today 77% of Alaskans live within GCI’s 1 gig footprint.
“When I started GCI more than 40 years ago, Alaska lagged far behind the rest of the nation in basic connectivity,” said GCI CEO Ron Duncan. “Today I’m pleased to announce that when upgrades are complete in 2022, Alaska will lead the nation in 2 gig speeds. And it will be our turn, once again, to wait for the rest of the country to catch up.”
Alaska communities that currently have access to GCI’s 1 gig service will be the first to experience 2 gig service when it becomes available. Customers on GCI+ red plans will automatically be upgraded to 2 gig service, doubling their current speeds at no additional cost. The Alaska communities that will have access to 2 gig speeds when the service launches next year include:
- Eagle River
- Fort Greely
- North Pole
Additional Alaska communities will soon be on the upgrade list. GCI said it will launch 1 gig service in Nome and Kotzebue in 2021, and as part of the company’s ambitious AU-Aleutians Fiber Project, will deliver 1 gig speeds to the remote Western Alaska communities of Unalaska, King Cove, Akutan, Sand Point, Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay. GCI’s 2 gig speeds will be available in these communities in a future phase of the upgrade project.
“Nome, Kotzebue and communities in the Aleutians are among the most remote in the nation, but will soon have urban-level internet comparable to Anchorage, Chicago and Los Angeles,” said Duncan. “It’s another example of GCI’s commitment to closing the digital divide and turning the Last Frontier into the First Frontier for connectivity.”
GCI President and COO Greg Chapados emphasized GCI’s commitment to investing in projects across Alaska to close the digital divide, and today announced GCI’s consideration of another major rural project.
“It’s a challenge to deliver broadband service across Alaska, but our team is always looking for innovative ways to deliver cutting edge service to our customers no matter where they live,” said Chapados. “I’m pleased to announce today that GCI is developing a business and technical plan to build fiber to Bethel, connecting our customers there to 1, 2 and eventually 10 gig speeds. This project will transform the lives of our Bethel customers and will also enable GCI to deliver better data connectivity to surrounding communities.”
“For decades, GCI has pioneered ground-breaking connectivity solutions for rural Alaska,” Chapados continued. “TERRA, our hybrid fiber-microwave network, which brought terrestrial broadband service to Western Alaska for the first time; the AU-Aleutians Fiber Project, which should be substantially complete by the end of next year; and the launch of 1 gig in Kotzebue and Nome later this year illustrates our longstanding commitment to serving rural Alaskans. We are working to finalize a comprehensive plan for the next evolution of data communications in rural Alaska. Bringing fiber to Bethel is a top priority in that plan.”