GCI says that after seven years of engineering and construction, its Terrestrial for Every Rural Region in Alaska network (TERRA ring) has finished the heavy construction phase. The Alaskan provider of data, wireless, video, voice, and managed services asserts the TERRA network is one of the largest fiber-microwave networks in the country, and will provide enhanced network capacity and reliability for TERRA communities in rural Alaska.
GCI celebrated the construction completion on August 18 at a Bethel, AK, community event attended by 1,000 people, including local and state leaders, including U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and representatives from Sen. Dan Sullivan's office.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski at the GCI Terra community event in Bethel.
GCI and its construction partners, STG Inc. and Ericsson Inc., began the TERRA network buildout in 2010 to connect rural communities to modern technology with high-speed terrestrial broadband. Wilderness isolation, unpredictable weather, and rugged geography made construction challenging for the GCI crews, according to the provider. Heavy-lifting helicopters delivered the tower equipment, tools, and steel to remote areas required to construct over 100 TERRA microwave towers in Alaska's wilderness, and a next-generation network for rural and urban Alaskan communities.
"Alaska is home to some of the most challenging weather and geography in North America, which makes connecting nearly 45,000 Alaskans to a wealth of online resources a tremendous accomplishment," said Martin Cary, GCI Business senior vice president. "GCI is bringing high-speed broadband to Alaskans living in some of the most remote communities on earth. We're incredibly proud and thankful to the dedicated partners and hardworking crews that made it all possible."
The TERRA ring will provide high-speed broadband access for a chain of 84 rural interconnected communities, with the possibility of 3G/4G cellular service, says GCI. Many public, private, and nonprofit entities, including school districts, regional health corporations, and Alaska Native organizations, will have significant bandwidth access with the completed TERRA ring. Alaskans' health care and education will also benefit from the availability of high-speed data streaming for in video conferencing.
"We're just not going to be able to have a physics teacher in Kwethluk," said Sen. Murkowksi. "But to be able to bring that expertise out to the villages through distance delivery, this is going to be the great equalizer."
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