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TECHNOLOGY

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

While the final decision is still months away, GCI has taken another small step toward bringing high-speed internet to Unalaska.

The telecommunications company applied for the project’s first permit this month.

If granted, the license from the Federal Communications Commission will allow GCI to extend its fiber optic network to the Aleutian chain.

GCI is looking into what it would take to bring faster internet to Unalaska. The telecommunications company is evaluating if fiber would be a financially feasible solution. Right now, they are in the exploratory process.

Spokesperson Heather Handyside said the company is surveying a route between a fiber facility in Levelock and Unalaska.

“If we are to do a build-out of a fiber cable, it will help us understand how to best engineer that cable so that it can withstand all the elements or obstacles that it might encounter,” Handyside said.

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

For GCI customers in Unalaska, better phone service is just a few weeks away.

The telecom company is finishing tower upgrades that will help transform the island’s unreliable and outdated 2G network into a standard 2G system.

“Calls are going to go through much more cleanly and quickly," said Heather Handyside, director of corporate communications for GCI. "There will not be dropped calls, and texts will be much more timely.”

Handyside said customers should see improved service over the next two or three weeks as the network comes online.

Laura Kraegel

Western Alaska just got one step closer to high-speed internet.

That's because after years of planning and wrangling permits, Quintillion is finally ready to lay fiber optic cable from Prudhoe Bay to Nome. The telecom company has one vessel stationed in the Bering Sea and another close behind.

The Ile de Brehat has left its homeport in France, passed through the Panama Canal, and will soon arrive in Nome. That's where the vessel will start laying a path of fiber optic cable below the sea floor — a path that will wind more than a thousand miles up to the North Slope.

Quintillion

The Ile de Brehat is in Dutch Harbor. The ship is stopping in port on its way up the Alaskan coastline, where it's scheduled to lay fiber optic cable this summer and deliver high-speed internet by early next year.

The vessel is owned by Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks — a French contractor installing the undersea cable on behalf of Quintillion.

Quintillion is the Anchorage-based telecom company is in charge of the project, which will bury more than a thousand miles of cable from Prudhoe Bay to Nome.