GCI has announced a $150 million partnership with Intelsat that will dramatically expand the company’s geosynchronous (GEO) satellite capacity to meet growing demand for communications services in rural communities across Alaska.
The deal GCI continued access to C- and Ku-band capacity, which is already part of GCI’s satellite service portfolio and also provides new access to statewide Ka-band capacity. GCI, Alaska’s largest telecommunications company, has delivered satellite-based connectivity for 35 years and has the largest footprint of satellite-delivered data, video and voice services in the state. The new, long-term deal ensures GCI will meet the growing demands of rural customers including regional tribal health care providers, school districts, government agencies, and businesses.
For the new partnership, Intelsat will supply a high-throughput, multi-satellite solution over a new and enhanced managed Earth station platform and a tri-band (C-, Ku-, and Ka-) network that will cover the entire state of Alaska.
“This announcement is another example of GCI’s continued commitment to our rural customers and our willingness to make the investment necessary to serve small, remote communities across the state,” said GCI CEO, Ron Duncan. “Some people have expressed concern that Alaska is running out of GEO satellite capacity — well, that’s no longer an issue. This deal will nearly quadruple our available capacity. GCI intends to remain the leader in connectivity in rural Alaska. The Intelsat partnership is part of a much broader rural connectivity strategy that includes our AU-Aleutians Fiber Project.”
“What sets GCI’s satellite service apart is that we manage the network from end to end, combining Intelsat’s satellite capacity with GCI’s satellite engineering and remote logistics know-how,” said GCI Senior VP of Corporate Development, Billy Wailand. “That approach enables us to be responsive to our customers and their evolving needs, delivering a high-value service and a quality user experience for our customers. Our networks are resilient, safe, secure and reliable. We’re thrilled to partner with a leading global satellite provider with a proven track record and a vision for the future.”
Delivering service in rural Alaska requires a comprehensive approach and a willingness to use every tool in the toolkit. For GCI, that toolkit includes fiber, microwave, GEO satellites such as those operated by Intelsat, and eventually, LEO satellites. GCI has been actively engaged in talks with LEO providers that have included SpaceX, OneWeb, and Telesat.
“We are confident that LEOs will become an important part of GCI’s toolkit over time,” said Wailand. “But before we begin encouraging some of our customers to consider a move to LEO satellites, we need to be confident in their performance and ability to meet our customers’ current and future demands. Our partnership with Intelsat provides GCI and our customers with an immediate solution that addresses capacity needs today, as well as the ability to integrate future technologies like LEOs when they become ready. At the end of the day, it’s about delivering value and reliable service to our customers, and we couldn’t have found a better, more capable partner than Intelsat,” he added.