Subsea fiber project aims to improve internet speeds for Aleutian Islands
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Connecting to the internet in rural Alaska is difficult, but that’s slowly changing as more telecommunication companies invest in infrastructure for higher-speed connections.
The Aleutian Islands are the latest region of the state that will soon receive faster internet through GCI’s AU-Aleutians Fiber Project.
In July, a cable ship left Unalaska, and GCI said it will lay 800 miles of special subsea fiber from Kodiak to the south side of the Alaska Peninsula, connecting the Aleutians and Unalaska.
“The Aleutians are a great example of where we have been serving with satellite connectivity and the internet and wireless is not what we hope it can be,” GCI spokesperson Heather Handyside said. “Not the best that we can deliver to our customers. We’ve been looking for a long time at a way to bring fiber to those communities in that region.”
The project costs $58 million — $25 million which was awarded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect program — and GCI is investing the remaining $33 million. The telecommunications company said it hopes to have two-gig internet speeds to Unalaska by the end of the year.
“This is going to be transformative for the community,” Unalaska City Manager Chris Hladick said. “Not only from the citizens of the community, who want better internet service, but also for the seafood companies, for business, for everything.”
Alaska Power and Telephone also received a grant from the USDA Reconnect program to expand broadband on Prince of Wales Island. In 2017, Anchorage-based company Quintillion installed a subsea fiber optic cable system for northern communities.
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