GCI Aleutians Fiber Project


After years of planning and preparation, the GCI Alaska United (AU) Aleutians Fiber Project is here! Over the next two years, GCI will execute a bold plan to deploy an 860-mile subsea fiber system to some of the nation’s most remote communities. Running 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. 

  

A timeline of the GCI Aleutians Fiber Project and current status as of September 2021
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GCI IS BRIDGING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

The global pandemic has demonstrated that connectivity is more important than ever. GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project will provide fiber-based connectivity—the gold standard—that will open up a world of possibilities for local businesses, consumers (including gamers!), students, teachers and health care providers. Can you imagine living in one of the most remote communities in the nation and having access to urban-level 1 gigabit (1GIG) speeds in your home? That’s what our Unalaska customers can expect when the project is complete. It’s just another example of GCI working to bridge the digital divide between urban and remote areas, dramatically improving the delivery of a wide range of critically-important services to Alaskans.

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“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. 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.”

-Ron Duncan, GCI CEO & Founder

Why Fiber?

Fiber is a low-latency solution that provides the fastest broadband internet speeds with the greatest capacity—that’s why it’s the gold standard for broadband connectivity. Faster and more reliable than any other solution, including low earth orbit (LEO) and geostationary earth orbit (GEO) satellite service, fiber allows providers across the nation and around the world to provide the fastest, most reliable service to customers. GCI has been serving Alaska for more than 40 years and operates the largest network in the state including more than 5,500 miles of subsea fiber. Because of GCI’s far-reaching subsea and terrestrial fiber network, 77% of Alaskans—including those living in small, isolated communities like Ketchikan, Wrangell and Petersburg—have access to 1GIG internet speeds.  

Game Changer

Creating reliable, fast service in the Aleutians will bring life-changing opportunities to the people who live there. High-speed, 1GIG home internet will be a reality for the first time, providing an opportunity to use streaming services and home e-learning tools. Fiber-based connectivity will be a game-changer for local industries, too. As fans of the hit TV series “The Deadliest Catch” know, Unalaska is the second-busiest fishing port in the nation. The AU-Aleutians Fiber Project will offer hardworking Alaskan commercial fishermen and seafood processors connectivity like never before. How fast is fast? GCI’s 1GIG service will be as good or better than service available in many Lower 48 urban centers including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

“For decades, GCI has pioneered innovative connectivity solutions for rural Alaska. TERRA, our hybrid fiber-microwave network, provides access to terrestrial broadband service to 45,000 Alaskans in 84 communities in Western Alaska.  GCI is currently developing a comprehensive plan for the next evolution of data communications in rural Alaska.  The AU-Aleutians Fiber Project is part of that plan.”

- Greg Chapados, GCI President and Chief Operating Officer

 

Connecting Some of the Most Remote Communities in the Nation

Life in the Aleutians is unlike anywhere else in the world. Unalaska, King Cove, Sand Point, Akutan, Chignik Bay, and Larsen Bay are some of Alaska’s most remote communities and are closer to Russia than to the contiguous U.S.  Consisting of 14 large islands and 55 smaller islands, the Aleutian Chain communities lead a remote, island life in every sense of the word. To put it into perspective, the nearest highway to Unalaska is in Homer, about 65 hours away by ferry.  And the most common mode of transportation between islands is by ferry, boat, or small plane. Until now, customers in these communities could only be served by satellite connectivity. GCI’s bold plan will deploy an 860-mile subsea fiber system running 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.

Committed to Connecting Alaskans

Connecting some of the most remote communities in the nation won’t be easy but GCI’s team of experts is up to the challenge. We’ve been connecting Alaska’s small, extremely remote Arctic communities for more than 40 years. The GCI team has invested more than $3 billion in our Alaska network and we’re proud of the creative solutions we’ve come up with to deliver innovative service to our customers. We serve more than 240 communities across the state and 97% of Alaskans live in GCI’s service area. We’re building out our network on the North Slope to help our resource development customers prepare for the automated oil fields of the future. In Western Alaska, we developed a hybrid microwave-fiber network to connect 45,000 Alaskans in 84 communities to broadband service – many for the first time. We were the first provider to bring 1GIG internet speeds to the state, and we most recently deployed the northernmost 5G network in the nation.  We don’t do it because it’s easy—we do it because we are committed to connecting Alaskans.
Fast facts about the Aleutians region 

Unalaska is approximately 900 miles southwest Anchorage. Washington, D.C. is 4,107 air miles away. 
The Aleutian Islands actually extend further west than Hawaii. 
The only way to travel to the region is by ferry or plane. 
The area has been inhabited by Unangax (Aleut) people since the last ice age. 
The whole region is part of the Ring of Fire with nearly 70 volcanoes, half of which have been active in the last 250 years. 


Fast facts about the project 

The fiber will make landings in six communities with a combined year-round population of 8,000. 
The subsea fiber is a non-powered, 12-count fiber optic cable. It’s provisioned with 2-100G channels with 8-100G channels capable per fiber pair.
Subsea permitting is substantially completed and the basis of design is near complete.