GCI service restored after Sunday outage affected 911 calls across Alaska

The GCI store in Bethel. GCI provides service to areas across Alaska. (KYUK file photo)

GCI’s wireless and internet services came back online late Sunday afternoon after an outage that lasted several hours, affecting 911 phone service for many customers across the state.

GCI Chief Communications Officer Heather Handyside said in an email Sunday that the outage began around 10 a.m. She didn’t have an exact number of customers that were impacted, because some people only had intermittent interruptions and other customers were not affected.

Police in Anchorage, Palmer and Soldotna said on social media that the outage had prevented GCI and Verizon customers from directly calling 911. Anchorage police urged GCI callers to use the department’s non-emergency line, 311, during the outage.

The Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation said in an emailed announcement Sunday afternoon that it couldn’t receive calls from cell phones, and it advised people to call from a landline or a phone that makes calls through an internet connection.

Handyside said water leaked into a building that housed network equipment and damaged that equipment, but that it was repaired by afternoon. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the water leak stemmed from a sprinkler system that failed in an Anchorage office space above one of GCI’s equipment rooms. Handyside said the building is not owned by GCI.

Handyside said service started to come back online by 4 p.m. Sunday.

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