Alaska's GCI garners $25M federal grant to bring internet to Aleutian communities

Alaska's GCI was awarded a $25 million federal grant to build  a fiber service that will serve Aleutian communities. The grant was awarded from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect program in support of GCI’s Alaska United - Aleutians Fiber Project, which will provide terrestrial broadband service to under-served areas of the state.

The service will bring broadband to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor and five other communities – King Cove, Sand Point, Akutan, Chignik Bay, and Larsen Bay. Subject to permitting and other contingencies, the project, including a new long-haul subsea fiber system, is slated to be largely completed and in use by the end of 2022.

The total cost of the project is $58 million with GCI kicking in $33 million to pay for the project costs not covered by the ReConnect grant.

As part of the project, GCI will build a subsea fiber system that will be 800 miles in length, running from Kodiak along the south side of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians to Unalaska. GCI said the system was designed for resiliency in the subsea Arctic conditions and it's expected to operate for more than 25 years.

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The project also includes a fiber-to-the premises (FTTP) network to connect homes and businesses throughout the community. The FTTP network will enable the same 1-Gig internet speeds that are used by GCI’s consumer customers in Anchorage and other fiber-served communities. GCI said the FTTP network would be the most advanced wireline local access network in Alaska.

“The AU-Aleutians Fiber Project is yet another example of GCI’s willingness to invest in rural Alaska when other companies are unable or unwilling to do so,” said GCI CEO Ron Duncan, in a statement. “Fiber service, the gold standard of broadband connectivity, will enable Unalaska, the nation’s largest fishing port and a gateway to the American Arctic, and the other project communities to realize their full economic potential while advancing the national security interests of the United States.” 

The Alaska United - Aleutians Fiber Project will improve the delivery of a range of services of critical importance to the business, government, education, and healthcare sectors. The services will include automated business processes, such as payroll and inventory, video conferencing, and telemedicine and education.

The project will also enable GCI to launch new services, such as IP cable video, while improving existing services, including mobile wireless.