GCI Works to Repair Damaged Undersea Fiber Serving Sitka and Angoon

February 11, 2016

General Communication, Inc. (GCI) announced today that Sitka and Angoon customers should expect service interruptions due to recent damage to the undersea fiber optic cable that serves the Sitka and Angoon areas. Permanent repairs are expected to begin on Sunday. Services may be affected for 72-hours or more.

GCI will move customers to alternate systems while the fiber cable is being repaired. However, data services and GCI TV will be significantly impacted.

A service affecting outage was first reported on Sunday Feb. 7 around 6 p.m. Investigation revealed damage to the fiber optic cable about seven miles WSW of Angoon in Chatham Straits at a depth of approximately 1,400 feet. The cause of the damage will be determined after the cable is recovered from the seafloor. Though GCI performed temporary repairs, the cable is operating in a compromised condition and a permanent fix is required immediately.

GCI has back up plans in place for these kinds of incidents,” said GCI VP of regional operations Warren Russell. “A specialized fiber repair ship from British Columbia is already on its way, and we have implemented our backup plans to ensure that essential services, public safety organizations like 911, and local hospitals remain fully operational. We want our customers to know that GCI crews are working around the clock to restore service as quickly as possible.  We will continue to update our customers to let them know the status of the repairs.”

In Sitka and Angoon, local, long distance, and 911 calls will not be affected. In addition, wireless voice and simple texting will not be affected.

Angoon customers will not have access to GCI TV service during the repair.

Sitka GCI customers will experience changes to their Internet, TV, and wireless data services:

  • Multi-media wireless texting (embedded photos or video in a text) will have diminished performance.
  • Wireless web browsing will be diminished but basic email access will be available.
  • Cable modem browsing will be diminished.
  • Customers will only be able to access a limited number of GCI TV channels.
  • Streaming video services and online software updates will be significantly impaired or unavailable. 

Local hospital operations and public safety agencies will be served through a dedicated bypass system; services will not be affected. Local schools will experience diminished Internet services. GCI has been working with these customers to manage the outage as best as possible.

The fiber optic cable that serves Sitka was installed in 2008. It is part of a 754-mile system serving southeast Alaska. This system connects to a much more extensive system connecting the North Slope, south-central, western, and coastal Alaska to the lower 49 states.

GCI will continue to update the media and the public on this situation as it evolves.  Sitka and Angoon customers can check for the latest updates on the GCI Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GCIAK/. In addition, Sitka customers may call 907-747-3535 for local updates.

About GCI

GCI is the largest Alaska-based and -operated, integrated telecommunications provider, offering wireless, voice, data, and video services statewide. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com.

David Morris