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Alaska's GCI launches TERRA broadband service in northwest Arctic region
Announced Date: 11/26/2014 Published Date: 12/1/2014

GCI, the largest Alaska-based service provider, announced the commercial launch of TERRA terrestrial broadband service in the Northwest Arctic borough, for the first time enabling the delivery of terrestrial broadband service to the community of Kotzebue, located 33 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

The new service is designed to improve online health, education and government services, as well as broadband data services for residential and business users. In conjunction with the launch of TERRA, GCI has also rolled out 3G mobile wireless services for the more than 3,200 residents of Kotzebue.

TERRA is GCI's terrestrial broadband network serving the rural communities of western Alaska. Terrestrial broadband provides lower latency and allows for streaming of rich media and the ability to use video conferencing for applications such as healthcare and education.

In addition, the launch of 3G wireless service will enable significantly higher mobile data speeds, providing customers with benefits such as faster web browsing and audio and video streaming. GCI will also launch 3G services in the communities of Nome and Unalakleet later in the year.

GCI noted that it has partnered with organisations including STG and Ericsson for the construction of the infrastructure required to deliver terrestrial broadband Internet service in the challenging conditions of Alaska. Since its inception in 2010, TERRA has expanded to support the delivery of terrestrial broadband services to 72 communities and more than 43,000 residents in western Alaska.

In April last year, GCI announced the completion of a significant part of the expansion of the TERRA network into Northwest Alaska. Phase 1 of the TERRA-Northwest (TERRA-NW) initiative, which included the installation of five new microwave towers and three remote repeaters, connects the network in Shageluk to Unalakleet and Shaktoolik. At that time, GCI stated that phases 2 and 3 of TERRA-NW were underway.

TERRA-NW also connects to TERRA-Southwest, a terrestrial middle mile project connecting 65 remote communities in Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. TERRA-Southwest is a hybrid fibre optic cable/microwave system that terrestrially connects rural Alaska to the Internet gateway in Anchorage.