April 27, 2021
The project will bring urban-level connectivity to six remote Alaska communities
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – GCI, Alaska’s largest telecommunications company, is working with longtime partner Wells Fargo to support GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project through the bank’s New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) group. Wells Fargo acted as the NMTC investor through another valued partner—Clearinghouse CDFI. Clearinghouse acted as the community development entity (CDE) providing the NMTC allocation.
GCI will deploy an 860-mile subsea fiber system from Kodiak along the south side of the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians to Unalaska. The project will deliver urban-level speed, service and reliability for the first time to the communities of Unalaska, King Cove, Sand Point, Akutan, Chignik Bay, and Larsen Bay.
“To make projects like AU-Aleutians happen, you can’t do it alone. This is a massive undertaking and we are grateful to have partners like Wells Fargo and Clearinghouse CDFI by our side to help ensure this project becomes a reality,” said Vice President of GCI Business Initiatives Lewis Schnaper. “GCI is committed to building out our fiber network to best serve our customers. It’s the gold standard of connectivity and the new possibilities it will offer to consumers and businesses in the region are game-changing. Bringing urban-like levels of connectivity to some of the most-remote communities in North America is a huge step towards closing the digital divide.”
The New Market Tax Credit program is a federal tax incentive authorized by Congress in 2000 to help spur the investment of capital in small businesses and commercial real estate located in communities of need. Through NMTC allocations, Wells Fargo reduces borrowing costs by offering below-market rate financing on more favorable credit terms than conventionally available.
“Wells Fargo is thrilled to provide $4.9 million in new market tax credit financing to help enable broadband connectivity for communities in the Aleutians, where predominantly Alaska Native residents continue to struggle with basic connectivity needs, which are especially critical during the pandemic,” said Tracy Burton, senior vice president of Community Lending & Investment at Wells Fargo. “The project will further enhance education and distance learning resources, along with telehealth, and it will also drive workforce development by creating more than 200 construction jobs and dozens of additional permanent jobs. We are very proud to work closely with GCI to bring this important infrastructure development to rural Alaska.”
The AU-Aleutians Fiber Project will dramatically improve the delivery of a wide range of services of critical importance to business, government, education, and healthcare. These include automated business processes like payroll and inventory, video conferencing, and telemedicine and education applications. The project will also enable GCI to introduce new services like streaming IP cable video and improve existing services like mobile wireless.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be approximately $58 million. GCI will invest $33 million of its own capital to pay for project costs not covered by the ReConnect grant.
Headquartered in Alaska, GCI provides data, mobile, video, voice and managed services to consumer, business, government, and carrier customers throughout Alaska, serving more than 200 communities. The company has invested more than $3 billion in its Alaska network and facilities over the past 40 years and recently launched true standards-based 5G NR service in Anchorage, now the nation’s northernmost 5G service area. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com. GCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Broadband Corporation (Nasdaq: LBRDA, LBRDK, LBRDP). Learn more about Liberty Broadband at http://www.libertybroadband.com.
About Wells Fargo
Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) is a leading financial services company that has approximately $1.9 trillion in assets and proudly serves one in three U.S. households and more than 10% of all middle market companies and small businesses in the U.S. We provide a diversified set of banking, investment and mortgage products and services, as well as consumer and commercial finance, through our four reportable operating segments: Consumer Banking and Lending, Commercial Banking, Corporate and Investment Banking, and Wealth and Investment Management. Wells Fargo ranked No. 30 on Fortune’s 2020 rankings of America’s largest corporations. In the communities we serve, the company focuses its social impact on building a sustainable, inclusive future for all by supporting housing affordability, small business growth, financial health and a low-carbon economy.