Nome & Kotzebue Data Usage Increases More Than 560% with GCI’s 2 Gigabyte Service
When GCI launched 2-gigabyte internet service in Nome and Kotzebue, the new speed capability was bound to change things. Exactly how much was unclear—until the company’s first full month of results in January. GCI says it measured a 560 percent increase in internet usage in those two communities.
Changing the Game
The speed upgrade was the result of a partnership between GCI and Quintillion to deliver fiber-based, urban-level services to both communities, reducing costs and increasing available internet speeds by 200 times.
Because fiber delivers the fastest speeds and practically limitless capacity, it’s GCI’s first choice when geography and technology permit and is a key element of the GCI’s rural strategy. In addition to partnering with Quintillion to bring fiber-based service to Nome and Kotzebue, GCI is working on another fiber infrastructure project in six Aleutian communities. That service is expected to launch in Unalaska later this year.
“GCI is committed to closing the digital divide in Alaska. Bringing 2 gig service to Nome and Kotzebue is a significant milestone in that effort, especially when many large cities in the Lower 48 are still dreaming of those speeds,” says GCI Senior Vice President of Corporate Development Billy Wailand. “Access to fast, reliable connectivity is more important now than ever before, and our customers in Nome and Kotzebue have proven that point. Fiber service is a game-changer. Right now, 80 percent of Alaskans can access 2 gig speeds, but we’re not done. Bringing 2 gig service to the Aleutians is next.”
Because not all communities can be reached with fiber or microwave networks, GCI also invested $150 million in a partnership with satellite company Intelsat last year to dramatically increase the availability of satellite capacity statewide. The agreement adds two new high-capacity satellites to GCI’s portfolio and nearly quadruples GCI’s available geosynchronous satellite capacity.
“While satellites play an important role in reaching some of Alaska’s most remote communities, fiber is the gold standard for delivering connectivity, and GCI intends to expand its fiber-optic infrastructure wherever possible,” says Wailand. “As GCI connects new communities to its fiber-optic backbone, they will have access to urban-level connectivity. Today, that means access to 2-gig internet speeds and enabling upgrades to high-speed LTE and 5G wireless service.”
GCI launched a Rural Connectivity Initiative (RCI) in late 2020 to guide the company’s efforts to bring digital equity to areas of Alaska where connectivity lags.
“We expect this comprehensive RCI planning effort to be an all-around win. It helps us plan and coordinate internal and external resources to complete ambitious infrastructure projects on time and on budget,” says Wailand. “It also allows GCI to set clear expectations with our rural partners around service, delivery, and timing and gives GCI and local communities an opportunity to promote training and development of skills in the regions where future build-outs will take place.”