GCI Announces Rural Internet Strategy — High-Speed Internet Service to Roll-Out in 152 Alaska Communities
GCI (Nasdaq: GNCMAfollowing year, services will be initiated to the final 50 communities.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates GCI’s continuing commitment to bring new technology to rural Alaska,” said Duncan. “In the mid-90s we brought digital, single-hop satellite service for the first time to rural Alaska, three years later we rolled-out high speed Internet access for rural schools, last year broadband services were initiated to rural health facilities.”
Duncan continued, “Today, we’re committing to create for rural Alaskans their personal ramp onto the Information Superhighway with urban quality service at urban level pricing. We believe this high-speed Internet access throughout rural Alaska will foster new health, education and commerce opportunities for the entire state.”
Prior to this agreement, villages in most of rural Alaska did not have local access to Internet services. While much of urban Alaska could easily access the Internet, rural Alaska was largely left out. This disparity is sometimes referred to as the “digital divide” between rural and urban communities.
In January of this year, the Denali Commission, a federal-state partnership established by Congress in 1998 to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support throughout Alaska, filed a report in which it found that 164 Alaska communities still could not reach the Internet through local dial-up Internet service.
The GCI announcement will dramatically change this disparity and provide local access to 112 of the communities cited in the Denali Commission report.
Internet services to village locations will be delivered on GCI satellite facilities and transported locally via DSL provided by the local telephone company or wireless technology provided by GCI. This service delivery model is fashioned after a February 2001 agreement between Maniilaq Association, OTZ Telephone and GCI to bring high-speed Internet service to 10 remote villages in the Northwest Arctic Borough. A similar agreement was announced in April between the Aleutians East Borough and GCI to provide service to three additional villages. Construction of facilities is currently underway.
GCI’s cable modem deployment in the 12 regional centers will follow its successful implementation of services in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Valdez and surrounding communities.
When the cable modem phase of the project is completed in 2002, 99.5 percent of homes passed by GCI cable TV will have access to cable modem service. This compares to the industry average of approximately 50 percent. Internet speeds will range from 256 kilobits per second to more than 1.5 megabits per second depending on the type of access technology used in a particular community. Typically, cable modem access supports higher throughput speed than other access methods. A minimum access speed of 256 kilobit per second service will be available for less than $50 per month.
GCI is an Alaska-based company that provides local and long-distance telephone, cable television, Internet and data communication services. More information about GCI can be found at www.gci.com.