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GCI Looks For Community Support For Fiber

Laura Kraegel

GCI’s vice president came to Tuesday night’s city council meeting to drum up support for their potential plan to bring fiber to Unalaska.

“I’m not here to talk about satellite today," said GCI's Dan Boyette. "I’m here to talk about satellite replacement today.”

Boyette said the company wants to bring faster service to Unalaska and a subsea fiber-optic cable may be the solution.

GCI is currently in the process of doing a marine survey. Boyette says they have already put in $2 million, but the entire project would end up costing $40 million.

“It’s all GCI money," he said. "GCI has never made an investment – in all the network expansion we’ve done – we’ve never made an investment that is this high on per capita basis for any community.”

But Boyette said in order for the telecommunications company to make that investment, they need to know there is interest in the community, although he’s pretty confident the support is there.

“I expected that it would be pretty hard not to support the idea of getting high-speed internet into the community,” he said.

Boyette estimates with fiber, GCI’s internet service would be at least six megabits per second for uploads and two megabits per second for downloads, which is enough for streaming standard-definition video.

The price for consumers would be similar to GCI's prices for western Alaska. In Nome for $150 a month, GCI customers can get 100 gigabytes.

While the company has not yet etched their commitment to the project in stone, they do have a rough timeline. Boyette says the permitting process could be done by early next summer, with onshore construction following, then laying the cable in the spring of 2019, which would mean fiber service in Unalaska by the end of 2019.

Zoë Sobel reported for KUCB from 2016 until 2019. She returned to KUCB after a year living in Nepal and Malaysia as a Luce Scholar. She then returned to KUCB as a ProPublica reporter August of 2020 through August of 2021.
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