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Akutan on deck for GCI's fiber-optic broadband internet

The City of Akutan, Spring 2023
Theo Greenly
/
KUCB
Akutan is about 35 miles northeast of Unalaska. The city itself has fewer than 100 residents but is home to North America’s largest fish processing plant, run by Trident Seafoods. GCI said in a Wednesday statement they expect to finish laying cable around the island community by the end of the month.

Akutan is set to be the next Aleutian community to get hooked up to fiber-optic broadband internet.

The Alaska-based telecommunications company GCI said in a Wednesday statement they expect to finish laying cable around the island community by the end of the month.

Akutan is about 35 miles northeast of Unalaska. The city itself has fewer than 100 residents but is home to North America’s largest fish processing plant, run by Trident Seafoods. The plant sits across the bay, a quarter mile from town.

GCI did not say whether they expect Trident to sign up for internet service.

GCI’s subsea fiber optic project and the satellite-based Starlink internet provider have helped close the digital divide between urban and rural communities in Alaska. Communities off the road system have relied on inconsistent dial-up internet speeds. Broadband internet opens the door to education and work opportunities. It also makes telehealth possible in communities that don’t have hospitals or full-time doctors.

Customers in Unalaska and Sand Point are already hooked up to the 800-mile fiber optic cable, and King Cove is not far behind.

GCI said they next plan to hook up Cold Bay, False Pass, and communities on Kodiak Island.

The whole project will cost around $100 million, about half of which comes from federal grant programs aimed at connecting rural communities to urban-speed internet. The remainder of the funding is GCI capital investment.

Theo Greenly reports from the Aleutians as a Report for America corps member. He got his start in public radio at KCRW in Santa Monica, California, and has produced radio stories and podcasts for stations around the country.