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GCI says foul weather at play in mobile to landline outages in Bethel

A Kusko Cab.
Katie Basile
A Kusko Cab.

Following two days of reports of landline phone issues in Bethel, GCI said that services have been fully restored as of Feb. 7.

Corporate communications director Megan Webb said that the most recent interruptions were related at least in part to weather issues at two unspecified locations in the company’s massive hybrid fiber-microwave TERRA network, which provides broadband access to Bethel and dozens of remote communities in the region.

“It was impacting mobile to landline, landline to mobile,” Webb said. “Once weather stabilized our services improved, but we are monitoring and mitigating any of the impacts between those two sites.”

Webb said that the outages affecting mobile to landline communications lasted for an approximately 10-hour period between Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, though multiple posts on local Facebook pages complained of issues lasting significantly longer.

GCI subsidiary United Utilities Inc., which according to its website provides landline services for Bethel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is unclear whether landline issues specifically related to the subsidiary company overlapped the TERRA interruptions.

While the impact to Bethel businesses that rely on landlines is also unclear, Kusko Cab public relations manager Musa Saliu said that the company had to quickly come up with a mobile number as a workaround to keep the business running on Feb. 6.

“Until people started to find out that we have that cell phone they can call, it impacted us in a huge way,” Saliu said.

Saliu said that it’s difficult to tell how much business the cab company may have lost because of the landline outages, but that the main Kusko Cab landline number is back up and running.

Evan Erickson is a reporter at KYUK who has previously worked as a copy editor, audio engineer and freelance journalist.