GCI Delivers First High-speed Internet to Norton Sound Villages

Published June 4, 2017

GCI connects clinics in Elim, Golovin, White Mountain, Stebbins, Koyuk and St. Michael

ANCHORAGE – Alaskans living in Norton Sound villages now have better access to health care as part of an innovative GCI project that brings high-speed internet to thousands in rural Alaska.

This month, GCI connected health care clinics in Elim, Golovin and White Mountain to its Terrestrial for Every Rural Region in Alaska (TERRA) network, a project that is empowering western Alaska with improved educational opportunities and better access to health care.

GCI’s TERRA network provides high-speed data streaming, which is a transformational service for many rural Alaska communities. With TERRA, these communities have access to secure, high-quality video conferencing—a critical tool for health care and education that can result in long-term cost savings for Alaskans and the agencies that serve them.

“Because of TERRA’s high-speed internet, GCI’s ConnectMD network is able to provide service to over 250 health care facilities in rural Alaska,” said Joe Furrer, director of GCI Healthcare. “That means providers can deliver high-quality care to patients in communities across the state. For people with chronic conditions, this is a game-changer and can save thousands of dollars in travel expenses every year. We’re proud that TERRA and GCI’s ConnectMD network are helping patients get access to better care at a more affordable cost.”

Clinics in Koyuk, St. Michael and Stebbins are expected to come online soon. Additional services to schools and consumers will be available in the Norton Sound villages later this summer after network upgrades between Bethel and Shaktoolik are complete.

The work in Norton Sound villages is part of a banner year for TERRA construction. The massive $300 million infrastructure project, launched in 2009, will reach a major milestone this year when GCI closes the network ring, creating a system more reliable than a linear network, which can be more vulnerable to interruptions in service. TERRA will serve 84 western Alaska communities by the end of 2017.

“Delivering these services in rural Alaska is no small feat,” said Rebecca Markley, GCI’s director of TERRA and Rural Operations. “We’re coordinating helicopter lifts, delivering thousands of gallons of fuel, and crews are camped out on mountain tops building the infrastructure. A major project in rural Alaska can be challenging, but we are meeting these challenges head-on so we can improve the quality of life for the people of western Alaska.”

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