GCI Launches AU-Aleutians Fiber Service in Unalaska
GCI customers in Unalaska now have access to urban-speed internet. The first residential customer in the fishing town was connected to 2-gig fiber optic service on December 21, marking the launch of the AU-Aleutians project.
A New Link in the Chain
GCI completed installation and successful internet speed tests in November. Since then, GCI crews and contractors have worked to open the network by a year-end launch date. In the coming weeks, GCI will use a phased approach to bring broadband internet to more Unalaska customers.
Unalaska has relied on satellite-only service for internet connections. GCI has spent more than two years working on an underwater fiber optic cable from Kodiak to the Aleutian Chain. The project was nearly thrown off track in late November, when a ship’s anchor damaged the cable, but crews managed to splice a repair in time for the launch date.
“The AU-Aleutians Fiber Project will provide data connectivity to Unalaska that is an order of magnitude faster than anything possible with the satellite service they are on today,” says Senior Vice President of GCI Corporate Development Billy Wailand. “Bringing fiber to the Aleutians has long been a goal of GCI, and I’m grateful for the support of so many who were instrumental in making this project a reality.”
As the project moves forward, GCI will adopt a phased approach to turning up service across Unalaska Island, currently scheduled for mid-January. With work wrapping up soon in Unalaska, crews will continue up the Aleutian Chain and Alaska Peninsula toward Kodiak, stopping in Akutan, Sand Point, King Cove, Chignik Bay, and Larsen Bay to install new local access networks. The communities are expected to come online in the next two years.
“On behalf of GCI, I’d especially like to offer our appreciation to the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service ReConnect program for its financial support and for working with GCI to keep this project on schedule,” Wailand says.
Phase two of the project will extend fiber optic connectivity to six more communities in the region through a partnership with the Native Village of Port Lions, which was recently awarded a $29.3 million grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Phase two of the project will bring urban-level connectivity to the small communities of Chignik Lagoon, Chignik Lake, Cold Bay, False Pass, Ouzinkie, and Port Lions.