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

a GCI cable
The telecommunications company has spent over two years working on an underwater fiber optic cable along the Aleutian Chain, and were 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 2-gigabit-per-second internet speeds 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 little later than the telecommunications company had hoped — GCI had been planning for a launch by the end of the year. But for the majority of the island, that service is still weeks away. The company announced Dec. 22 that its island-wide launch of high-speed internet will be rolled out in a “phased approach” and won’t likely happen until mid-January.

The announcement comes less than one month after the fiber-optic cable was damaged, likely by a ship’s anchor. It was repaired shortly after, and the company remained optimistic about its anticipated end-of-year launch date.

GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber project — an undersea cable running from Kodiak to Unalaska promising high-speed broadband connection across the Aleutian chain — is more than two years in the making.

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

As the company finishes launching service to the island, it will continue connecting communities along the Aleutian Chain and 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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