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GCI Looks Into Bringing Fiber To Unalaska

GCI is looking into what it would take to bring faster internet to Unalaska. The telecommunications company is evaluating if fiber would be a financially feasible solution. Right now, they are in the exploratory process.

Spokesperson Heather Handyside said the company is surveying a route between a fiber facility in Levelock and Unalaska.

“If we are to do a build-out of a fiber cable, it will help us understand how to best engineer that cable so that it can withstand all the elements or obstacles that it might encounter,” Handyside said.

Obstacles like strong currents, shipwrecks, and deep and varied terrain.

For GCI, it’s compelling that Unalaska is the top fishing port in the nation.

“I think there’s promise with the change in climate that it could get even busier," Handyside said. "We’re taking all those things into account when we decide if we want to make this investment.”

If built, she estimates the cable could cost tens of millions of dollars and GCI is planning to foot the entire bill. Currently Unalaska is only served by satellite making the internet slow and expensive. Fiber would allow for faster connections.

“We know in Unalaska, in particular since you are served by satellite, [fiber] would be a game changer for you,” Handyside said.

The marine survey is expected to be completed by mid-October and Handyside said GCI expects to have made a decision about the project by early 2018.

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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