General Communications Inc. (GCI) has just finished a project to ensure that their towers and fiber-optic cable all operate on the same platform in the Y-K Delta region. Previously, GCI had to make do with a patchwork of platforms inherited from other providers. Heather Handyside is GCI’s vice president of communications.
"But overall, it’s really to bring this network that was built in the early 2000s up to the same technology and standards that the rest of the network sees in rural Alaska," Handyside said.
The GCI's DeltaNET system is comprised of roughly 42 sites in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta that house microwave towers, which relay internet signals. Handyside says that those sites are not necessarily communities; some are located on mountain tops. The DeltaNET system served as a starting point for the larger network of microwave towers and fiber-optic cable known as the TERRA network.
TERRA is an acronym for a $300 million project that placed microwave towers and installed fiber optic cable throughout rural Alaska to make sure that schools and hospitals had high broadband internet. The TERRA network project started in 2009 and was just finished in 2017, and the latest DeltaNET upgrades came with a $7 million price tag. GCI installed more backup generators as part of this project, so the internet should stay up better in case of a local power outage.