Source: GCI Press Release
General Communication, Inc. (GCI) (Nasdaq:GNCMA) and its wholly owned subsidiary, United Utilities, Inc. (UUI), 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. 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.