Breakthrough: GCI going big with 5G - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Breakthrough: GCI going big with 5G

GCI is going where no Alaska telecom companies have gone before: It’s investing tens of millions of dollars into technology that delivers lightning-speed data, cutting download times in half.

It’s called 5G, and there aren’t all that many places in the world that have it.

Ron Duncan, CEO of GCI, made the announcement today, saying that a partnership with Ericsson, one of the world’s top providers of 5G technology, will making it possible for the homegrown Alaska company to bring a 5G network first to Anchorage, and later to other urban centers such as Fairbanks, Mat-Su and Juneau.

It’s a sign that the company has “cautious confidence” in Alaska’s economy, Duncan said. “I will say it’s an improving level of confidence. We are gradually becoming convinced that we are at the bottom (of the recession) and are slowly crawling out of it. We are comfortable that the state is on an improving trend.”

Starting this summer, the company will deploy Ericsson’s 5G New Radio hardware and software to 82 macro cell sites from Girdwood to Eklutna, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.

GCI’s metro fiber network will provide backhaul services to these sites, which include both towers and building locations.  The project will be completed in 2020 with initial 5G service coming online in the first half of the year.

“We are committed to providing superior 5G wireless service to the residents of Anchorage just as we already provide the fastest internet service,” Duncan said. “We are bringing all our assets – fiber, spectrum, wireless footprint, Alaska expertise – to bear on that commitment.”

GCI’s 5G deployment will support local Anchorage’s efforts to grow the nation’s northernmost smart city. Anchorage already uses a “light grid” to improve efficiency for municipal street lights and is exploring programs that rely on automated systems and connectivity to deliver services more efficiently.

5G is new — so new that only large cities have it, at this point, according to HowtoGeek.com. In fact, Anchorage will be the smallest U.S. city to have those 5G bragging rights.

GCI controls more low/mid-band mobile radio spectrum than any other wireless provider in Anchorage and more macro cell sites in Anchorage than any other Alaska wireless provider.

“The combination of our assets and Ericsson’s industry-leading 5G solution will increase the capacity of our Anchorage wireless network by 10 times or more and also provide better coverage,” Duncan said. “All of our customers will benefit from this increase in capacity.”

The announcement was made at a joint press conference attended by Ericsson President and CEO Börje Ekholm and members of the company’s leadership team who traveled to Alaska to be present at the announcement.

“The result will be a wireless/wireline experience that will provide our customers nearly ubiquitous data connectivity. We are making these investments here in Anchorage because it’s our hometown, and we know how to deliver service to Alaskans better than any other provider.  Anchorage will serve as the model for our network modernization efforts in other Alaska cities,” Duncan said.

For more information about GCI and its 5G network, visit https://www.gci.com/.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • When will Bethel get it’s improvement on its snail pace service or is it gonna stay on indefinitely? We pay a lot out here in the bush n it seems gci hasn’t lived up to its promise

  • I switched to AT&T when GCI got all political and supported the No-Pebble environmentalists. I can live without their 5-by gosh and by golly.

  • GCI is by far the worst cellular company ive ever dealt with. 5G or not, their billing system sucks, coverage is laughable, and data prices should make anyone laugh… pick ANYBODY else and you’ll be happy you did.

  • This is why I moved to Alaska!

    5G technology uses very high powered, narrow beam super high-frequency microwave radiation.

    5G concentrates the signal from the antenna in your phone into a narrow, steerable high-powered beam aimed directly at the base station (cell tower), and a beam from the base station is going to be aimed directly at you (as well as for all the other people using 5G cell phones around you)

    To put it in layman’s terms, your cellphone’s microwave radiation pattern will now be more like a high-powered spotlight beam, versus a low-powered flood light before.

    The frequency of 5G will be 5-10 times higher than that at which your microwave oven cooks food (2.4 Ghz) and far higher than previous cellular technology.

    There will also be 5 to 10 times as many tower type cellular antennas (one every 300′ in cities) irradiating you with these beams of up to 20 watts of super high frequency microwave all the time.

    It has never been scientifically studied or tested for it’s safety on humans…..nor on animals, plants or even insects.

    That’s right, no studies have ever been done on the health impacts of living in a sea of high-powered 5G radiation 24/7.

    Good luck.

    • Agree…as in Jurassic Park, we’ve been so busy asking if we could, we didn’t stop to ask if we should. I’m very concerned about the potential impacts of this, and infuriated that there isn’t any meaningful way to engage public will on this issue.
      And GCI sucks. I literally spent two hours at ATT yesterday trying to get GCI to unlock my phone so we could migrate service.

  • 5g is not healthy. Alaska is known for nature. Not a cell phone station. Sad

  • I agree with the comment written above by Damon and with Alaska Natuve. It’s a disaster for us ecologically. We are barred by FCC regulation to protest the citing of cellular infrastructure on the basis of health reasons. But we can protest based on aesthetics and environmental impacts–and at roughly 30 megahertz, you can’t deny there will be biological impacts. The fact that studies are limited and in short supply is telling. I want to battle this! Who’s in???

    • Finally, an article that has comments from people with brains. This is all bad, people should be very, very concerned about this. A protest or something of the like needs to be organized. This needs to be stopped. 5G is banned in many areas of the world due to its dangers to humans and the environment!! How do we get the word out, how do we stop this?!

  • Alaskans need to say “NO” to 5G, because it’s extremely dangerous. It pummels areas with microwaves. We live here because of our natural environment, and 5G will harm not only the people, but our one of a kind environment. We must say no to this!

  • I’m in. We need to stop this. We must protect our very rare and beautiful environment, and the people who live in it.

  • Look up 5g on utube! It has the capability of changing your genes, disrupt reproduction, mind control, lower fruquencies aren’t healthy for our bodies, they cause the human body to grow cancers and tumors faster. You see those towers up next to our residential areas, and our schools! They have the capability and can be used to disburse crowds with a blast of low frequency wave. And get this, THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT, because it was the fastest passed initiative through congress, the people didn’t even get a chance to deny it. We couldn’t even oppose them even if we wanted to. This is scary technology! Why do you think it’s up here? We’re the guinea pigs for this experiment. Has anyone else noticed these white lines in the sky? That’s a chemical called lithium and barron being sprayed into our atmosphere. I thought for sure it was a joke, Look up Bill Gates, Harvard University Blocking out the sun. I’ve been woke to a whole new prospective, I thought existence of this kind of sick evil was only fictional, not anymore. Pray, and find your relationship with Jesus.

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