Alaska’s largest telecommunications company, GCI, has rolled out a new internet plan for customers in hub communities, like Nome and Kotzebue, which will decrease customers’ rates and increase data amounts.
Heather Handyside, senior director of corporate communications with GCI, says the new coverage option is meant to eliminate customer’s worries.
“People were going over their limits inadvertently and unless you really carefully monitor it, it can be hard to not go over your limit. So with the No Worries plan it takes the worry out of things for you. So what happens is when you reach the 80% threshold of your data usage for the month, GCI will send you an email letting you know you’re getting close and then once you’ve reached that limit, we’ll slow down your ability to surf the net.”
Once the data limit is reached, customers then have the option to continue using the internet at a reduced speed for the remainder of the month, or they can purchase additional data for $10.
And speaking of money, one of the No Worries Plan options will cost almost half as much as GCI’s current 100 gigabyte plan while also providing more data.
Handyside explains that Quintillion’s fiber optic project had no impact on GCI’s upgraded plan, but more data usage is available thanks to the Terrestrial for Every Rural Region in Alaska network, or TERRA.
“We’ve had TERRA in the works for over ten years and because we thought about it, and we were willing to make the investment and we were shovel ready when the American Recovery and Restoration Act funding became available, we were able to leverage a little bit of federal funding to build out this network, which by the time that we complete it, will serve 84 communities at a cost of $300 million.”
As of Tuesday, customers in Nome, Kotzebue, Bethel, and Utqiagvik, were automatically upgraded to the No Worries Plan. Handyside says the hope is to expand the No Worries plan to other rural communities as well.
“We don’t really have the technology right now to deliver that type of service and data to some of the more rural communities that aren’t right on the hubs. But we are looking for the technology that will make the investment and then do the upgrades as it becomes available. There are no definite plans right now or no definite timeline at this time.”
According to a company announcement made in April, GCI is expected to be acquired by Colorado-based Liberty Interactive Corp by early 2018.