GCI Announces Plan to Deploy Terrestrial Broadband Internet Service in 65 Remote Rural Communities
Deployment in Southwest Alaska One Year Ahead of Schedule
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, April 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- General Communication, Inc. (GCI) (NASDAQ:GNCMA) and its wholly owned subsidiary, United Utilities, Inc. (UUI), today announced their plan to provide terrestrial broadband Internet service to the residents of 65 remote, rural communities in Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.
At the end of 2011, a year ahead of schedule, UUI completed the construction of TERRA-Southwest, the first terrestrial broadband transport network to link Anchorage and the 65 communities. At the beginning of 2012, TERRA-Southwest began providing terrestrial broadband service to critical community service providers such as schools, hospitals, and health clinics.
As a result of the early completion of TERRA-Southwest, GCI and UUI have accelerated their plans to deploy terrestrial broadband Internet service in the 65 TERRA-Southwest communities. The first phase of deployment will begin in June and should be completed by mid-October of 2012, a year ahead of schedule.
GCI and UUI will offer a range of new Internet service plans starting as low as $24.99 per month. In communities currently served by the satellite-based WISP system, download speeds will be eight to 16 times faster than what is available today on similarly priced plans. Customers also will experience a substantial increase in service quality because TERRA-Southwest eliminates satellite-related latency. For more information about the communities to be served, new service plans and technical terms, go to http://www.gci.com/TERRA.
"We're proud to be able to provide terrestrial broadband Internet service for the first time to the residents of Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta," said Ron Duncan, GCI president and CEO. "TERRA-Southwest is bringing 21st century telecommunications to southwest Alaska, and GCI has already started work to extend the network and its benefits to northwest Alaska."
The new Internet service plans will be delivered over different networks depending on the community.
In TERRA-Southwest communities other than Bethel and Dillingham, the plans will be delivered over newly deployed Wi-Fi wireless networks and possibly over wireline DSL (digital subscriber line) networks in some UUI communities. Both GCI and UUI will provide the plans in all UUI communities.
Since Wi-Fi coverage is affected by many factors, including the unique topographic features of each community, the first phase of the Wi-Fi deployment may not achieve full availability of the service plans throughout a given community. After the first phase is complete, GCI and UUI will evaluate the resulting coverage and determine whether additional steps are needed to achieve additional coverage.
In Bethel, the plans will be delivered over GCI's existing video network and UUI's DSL network. GCI is still working on a service delivery solution in Dillingham, as GCI does not own a local telephone or video network and Dillingham's geographic layout is not ideal for the installation of Wi-Fi service.
GCI will also make wholesale service plans available to other local carriers in the TERRA-Southwest service area, which will enable those carriers to sell Internet service to their customers.
GCI will post updates on http://www.gci.com about service dates and ordering procedures as the deployment progresses.
GCI (NASDAQ:GNCMA) is an Alaska-based integrated communications provider and the second largest wireless provider in Alaska. As a pioneer in bundled services, GCI provides local, long distance and wireless telephone, video services, Internet and data communication services throughout Alaska. For more information, visit http://www.gci.com.
Communities to Receive Terrestrial Broadband Internet Service in 2012
AKIACHAK EEK KOLIGANEK NEW STUYAHOK QUINHAGAK
AKIAK EKWOK KONGIGANAK NEWHALEN RUSSIAN MISSION
ALAKANUK EMMONAK KWETHLUK NEWTOK SCAMMON BAY
ALEKNAGIK GOODNEWS BAY KWIGILLINGOK NIGHTMUTE SHAGELUK
ANIAK GRAYLING LEVELOCK NONDALTON SOUTH NAKNEK
ANVIK HOLY CROSS LOWER KALSKAG NUNAM IQUA ST. MARY'S
ATMAUTLUAK HOOPER BAY MANOKOTAK NUNAPITCHUK TOGIAK
BETHEL IGIUGIG MARSHALL OSCARVILLE TOKSOOK BAY
CHEFORNAK ILLIAMNA MEKORYUK PEDRO BAY TULUKSAK
CHEVAK KASIGLUK MOUNTAIN VILLAGE PILOT STATION TUNTUTULIAK
CHUATHBALUK KING SALMON NAKNEK PITKA'S POINT TUNUNAK
CLARKS POINT KIPNUK NAPAKIAK PLATINUM TWIN HILLS
DILLINGHAM KOKHANOK NAPASKIAK PORT ALSWORTH UPPER KALSKAG
Terrestrial Broadband Internet Service Plans in Bethel
Speed Monthly Included Usage Monthly Standalone Monthly Price w/GCI Monthly Usage Bonus w/GCI Monthly Usage Bonus w/GCI
Smartphone Video Service*
(up to speeds in
megabits) (in megabytes) Price Cellphone or UUI Phone Data Package (in megabytes)
512K down/ 3,000 $29.99 $24.99
2M down/ 6,000 $64.99 $49.99 2,000 3,000
3M down/ 12,000 $74.99 $59.99 2,000 3,000
4M down/ 18,000 $114.99 $99.99 2,000 3,000
6M down/ 25,000 $164.99 $149.99 2,000 3,000
* To be available beginning August 2012
Terrestrial Broadband Internet Service Plans outside Bethel
Speed Monthly Included Usage Monthly Standalone Monthly Price w/GCI Monthly Usage Bonus w/GCI
megabits) (in megabytes) Price Cellphone or UUI Phone Data Package
512K down/ 3,000 $29.99 $24.99
2M down/ 6,000 $64.99 $49.99 2,000
3M down/ 12,000 $74.99 $59.99 2,000
4M down/ 18,000 $114.99 $99.99 2,000
6M down/ 25,000 $164.99 $149.99 2,000
Facts about the TERRA-Southwest Terrestrial Broadband "Middle Mile" Network
A "middle mile" broadband Internet network connects communities to an Internet gateway and then onto what is commonly called the Internet backbone. In the TERRA-Southwest network, communities in southwest Alaska connect to the Internet gateway in Anchorage.
TERRA-Southwest currently serves the 30,000 residents of Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta and includes 400 miles of new fiber optics, 13 new microwave towers, and 26 upgraded existing microwave sites.GCI is already working at extending TERRA-Southwest northward. Unalakleet and Shaktoolik will come on line in 2012 and Nome in 2013.
With the completion of supplemental work on TERRA-Southwest and the "last mile" connection to the TERRA communities, GCI and UUI will have invested more than $146 million in the construction of TERRA-Southwest (excluding Unalakleet, Shaktoolik, and Nome). Of this investment, $102 million (70 percent) will have been funded with GCI/UUI's own capital. The remaining $44 million will have been funded by a broadband grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service.
Prior to TERRA-Southwest, broadband connectivity in Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta was provided via satellite. Satellite transmission has much higher latency (a quarter second delay caused by the enormous distance the transmission must travel) than terrestrial transmission (latency as low as one tenth of a quarter second).
Microwave technology was used in TERRA-Southwest to reach more communities, ensure high network availability, and avoid conflicts with land conservation system units and other land use restrictions. As a result, TERRA-Southwest does not have as large a backbone capacity from Bethel to Anchorage as an all-fiber system would.
There are many demands on TERRA-Southwest's backbone capacity, including regional healthcare and education providers, mobile wireless customers, residential Internet subscribers, business/government and data customers. GCI and UUI are planning upgrades to TERRA-Southwest that will increase the backbone capacity over time. Even so, GCI and UUI will continue to evaluate usage patterns as traffic ramps up on the network and manage use of the backbone capacity so that all users benefit.
Facts about the Wi-Fi Wireless "Last Mile" Network
A "last mile" broadband Internet network connects individual homes and businesses in a community to an Internet access point/router that in turn is linked to a middle mile network. Last mile networks include hybrid fiber-coaxial wireline networks that also deliver video services, wireline copper networks that deliver local telephone service, and wireless networks that use Wi-Fi or other wireless technologies.
GCI has operated wireless last mile networks (using satellite for long-distance transport) for many years in rural Alaska. GCI and UUI plan to deploy current-generation, standards-based 802.11n Wi-Fi networks in 63 TERRA communities this summer, including nearly 200 access points (APs) in aggregate.
Customers currently receiving wireless Internet service from GCI or UUI will need to upgrade their equipment in order to support the faster throughput speeds. Current customers will receive the equipment without charge.
SOURCE General Communication, Inc.
General Communication, Inc.
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