ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Oct. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- GCI (NASDAQ:GNCMA) announced today that it is moving ahead with the expansion of the TERRA terrestrial broadband network into Northwest Alaska. Phase 3 of the TERRA-Northwest (TERRA-NW) initiative will build six new microwave sites between Shaktoolik and Kotzebue, and will enable future TERRA expansion throughout the Northwest Arctic.
Phase 3 of TERRA-NW will offer service to the residents, businesses, and government/not-for-profit institutions in Kotzebue. Two notable institutions are Maniilaq Association, the regional Native health corporation, and Northwest Arctic Borough School District, which are currently linked to the rest of Alaska and the world via satellite service. Access to low latency, high speed terrestrial broadband will enhance the ability of these organizations to deliver better care to patients and distance learning to schools and students.
GCI is currently deploying broadband cable modem service in Kotzebue. The deployment is expected to be complete by the end of October. When Phase 3 of TERRA-NW is completed, cable modem users in Kotzebue will have access to the same low latency, high speed terrestrial broadband service that Bethel users enjoy today.Maniilaq Association has long been a GCI customer and a worldwide leader in telehealth. "Today, satellite latency continues to hinder our advanced applications like video teleconferencing and electronic health records. After the completion of the TERRA-NW project, latency will be massively reduced and our ability to deliver telehealth applications at our regional hospital will be greatly improved," said Eugene Smith, chief information officer of Maniilaq Association. "The main benefit of the Phase 3 expansion of TERRA-NW will be higher speed, lower latency data service, supporting education, healthcare and Internet, enhancing the quality of life and economic opportunity for rural communities throughout the Northwest Arctic Borough," said Ron Duncan, president and chief executive officer of GCI. "GCI embarks on this project with the future of all Alaska in mind. We deeply appreciate the support provided to GCI by communities, their leaders, and our customers throughout the state." GCI has applied for the necessary permitting from the Bureau of Land Management and anticipates that Phase 3 construction will begin next year and will be complete by the end of 2014.