September 24, 2021
GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project team returns to port with plans for construction phase
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The GCI AU-Aleutians Fiber Project team remains on track with the project’s aggressive timeline to deliver high-speed internet to the Aleutians. Last week, the team returned to port in Homer after completing the geotechnical phase of its marine survey, conducted to analyze samples of the seafloor along the subsea fiber route.
Completing this phase of the project’s marine survey, conducted by Benthic GeoScience Inc., an Alaska-based company and crew, was the next critical step in preparing to lay fiber from Kodiak along the south side of the Alaska Peninsula and to the Aleutians. The crew analyzed samples that will be used to determine the viability of burying of the fiber in select areas, ensuring the project follows the best possible route.
“After the sample analysis along the route was completed, we returned to Homer to begin further review of our findings,” said GCI Senior Staff Engineer Bruce Rein. “We’re looking forward to combining our initial marine survey results with this latest data so we’re totally prepared with all the information we need to enter into the next phase of the project and begin laying fiber in the spring.”
The survey is currently being reviewed by marine archaeologists to ensure the project does not affect any historical resources. From the earliest planning stages, GCI has continually taken special precautions to ensure the safety and maintain the integrity of Alaska’s ecosystem and cultural resources. During the marine survey processes, crewmen act as observers and abide by strict guidelines to not impede on marine wildlife. And throughout the fiber laying process, onboard marine biologists monitor animal activities including migration patterns, fishing grounds and mammal groups.
“We’re checking a lot off our to-do list and making really great progress toward turning on service in Unalaska in late 2022,” said GCI Vice President of Network Program Management Rebecca Markley. “We set an aggressive timeline for ourselves because we understand how anticipated and necessary fiber-optic connectivity is in the Aleutians.”
The project recently received environmental clearance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to begin the groundwork associated with the project. RUS issued its decision based on an environmental analysis conducted by an independent contractor, which concluded the project would have no adverse effects to threatened or endangered species, critical habitat or historic and cultural properties.
When complete, the $58 million project will deliver urban-level speed, service and reliability for the first time to the Aleutians communities of Unalaska, King Cove, Sand Point, Akutan, Chignik Bay, and Larsen Bay. The project team is working closely with these communities to prepare for future construction.
More details can be found at gci.com/aleutianfiberproject.
Headquartered in Alaska, GCI provides data, mobile, video, voice and managed services to consumer, business, government, and carrier customers throughout Alaska, serving more than 200 communities. The company has invested more than $3 billion in its Alaska network and facilities over the past 40 years and recently launched true standards-based 5G NR service in Anchorage, now the nation’s northernmost 5G service area. Learn more about GCI at www.gci.com. GCI is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Broadband Corporation (Nasdaq: LBRDA, LBRDK, LBRDP). Learn more about Liberty Broadband at http://www.libertybroadband.com.