In a huge step forward for Alaskan connectivity, GCI announced this week it will double the internet speeds it currently offers and plans to deliver 2 gigabit internet access to 77% of Alaskans in 2022. GCI CEO Ron Duncan also noted that the ISP is on track to provide 10 gigabit speeds to its footprint in the next five years as the cable industry continues its work towards getting Americans to next generation connectivity through the cable industry’s 10G initiative.
"When I started GCI more than 40 years ago, Alaska lagged far behind the rest of the nation in basic connectivity," said GCI CEO Ron Duncan. "Today I’m pleased to announce that when upgrades are complete in 2022, Alaska will lead the nation in 2 gig speeds. And it will be our turn, once again, to wait for the rest of the country to catch up."
Those Alaskan communities with access to GCI's 1 gigabit service will be able to upgrade to 2 gigabit service as soon as it becomes available, while customers on GCI+ red plans—which offers 1 gig speeds and was among the first in the nation to offer these speeds in 2015—will automatically be upgraded to 2 gigabit speeds at no additional cost.
GCI has made great efforts over the last decade to bring Alaskans cutting edge connectivity and technology that rival urban areas in the U.S. Last year, the ISP revealed its ambitious plans to bring 1 gigabit speeds to the remote Aleutian Islands in southwest Alaska, which involves laying 800 miles of fiber undersea over the next two years. These Arctic communities will also soon be on the list to receive 2 gigabit speeds.
"Nome, Kotzebue and communities in the Aleutians are among the most remote in the nation, but will soon have urban-level internet comparable to Anchorage, Chicago and Los Angeles," said Duncan. "It's another example of GCI's commitment to closing the digital divide and turning the Last Frontier into the First Frontier for connectivity."
Not to mention, GCI’s TERRA network brought terrestrial broadband service to western Alaska for the first time when the project first launched 12 years ago. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, when people have demanded and relied on connectivity more than ever before, GCI employees worked around the clock to ensure that as many Alaskans were connected to the internet to continue learning, working, and communicating with the rest of the world, whether that was in a homeless shelter or in the state's most remote regions.
Next steps for GCI also include further closing the digital divide in the state by building fiber to Bethel, a rural community in western Alaska. "We are working to finalize a comprehensive plan for the next evolution of data communications in rural Alaska. Bringing fiber to Bethel is a top priority in that plan," said GCI President & COO Greg Chapados.
"How fitting that Alaska, and its great expanse that inspires the imagination, has moved into a leadership position on the road to 10G," said NCTA President & CEO Michael Powell. "GCI is leading the nation and is ready to take the next big step to 10G with a commitment to building 10 gigabit systems across the Last Frontier." GCI's announcement is just another example of how internet service providers are inching closer and closer to delivering 10 gigabit speeds.