GCI, the largest telecom company in Alaska, said Tuesday that it will deliver 2 Gigabit per second internet access to 77% of residents of that state in 2022, and is on track to provide 10 Gbps speeds in the next five years.
With that commitment, GCI said it would be the first in Alaska and one of the first in the country to make 2 Gbps speeds widely available to its customers. The company began making 1 Gbps speeds available to its customers in 2015, when it launched 1GIG Red service in Anchorage. Today, 77% of Alaskans live within GCI’s 1 Gbps footprint.
“When I started GCI more than 40 years ago, Alaska lagged far behind the rest of the nation in basic connectivity,” GCI CEO Ron Duncan said in a press release. “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.”
GCI said communities that currently have access to its 1 Gbps service will be the first to receive the 2 Gbps 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.
Other Alaskan communities that will have access to 2 Gbps speeds when the service launches next year include: Anchorage, Eagle River, Girdwood, Fairbanks, Fort Greely, Homer, Juneau, Kenai, Ketchikan, Kodiak, North Pole, Palmer, Petersburg, Seward, Soldotna, Sitka, Valdez, Wasilla and Wrangell.
GCI also plans to launch 1 Gbps service later this year in Nome and Kotzebue, and as part of its ambitious AU-Aleutians Fiber Project, will deliver 1 Gbps 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,” Duncan said in the press release. “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 also said that it is developing a business and technical plan to build fiber to Bethel, the largest city in the western part of the state, to provide 1 Gbps, 2 Gbps and eventually 10 Gbps speeds.
“For decades, GCI has pioneered ground-breaking connectivity solutions for rural Alaska,” GCI President Greg Chapados said in the release. “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.”
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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