GCI connects some Unalaska residents to high-speed internet, others have to wait

The telecommunications company has been working on an undersea fiber optic cable along the Aleutian chain for more than two years, and was weeks away from launching service in Unalaska when the cable was damaged in Unalaska Bay. (Courtesy GCI)

GCI connected its first Unalaska residential customers to its fastest internet speeds of 2 gigabits per second last week. And while some Unalaskans now have access to that fiber connection, most community members will have to wait until the new year before logging on.

That timeframe is a bit later than the telco had hoped: GCI had planned for a launch by the end of the year. But for most of the island, that service is still weeks away. The company announced on December 22 that its island-wide rollout of high-speed internet will be rolled out in a “phased approach” and likely won’t happen until mid-January.

The announcement comes less than a month after the fiber optic cable was laid damaged, probably by a ship’s anchor. It was patched shortly after, and the company remained optimistic about its planned end-of-year release date.

GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber project, an undersea cable running from Kodiak to Unalaska that promises high-speed broadband across the entire Aleutian chain, has been in the works for more than two years.

The island now has 12 data channels of 100 gigabytes. According to a company spokesperson, that means there should be unlimited capacity, better even than what some urban areas like Anchorage get. Unalaskans can expect speeds of 2 Gbps, about 2,000 times faster than what locals now have over most satellite connections.

When the company finishes rolling out service to the island, it will continue to connect communities along the Aleutian Chain and the Alaska Peninsula, including Akutan, Sand Point, King Cove, Chignik Bay and Larsen Bay. Those communities are expected to come online within the next two years.

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