GCI partners Ericsson on Alaska’s first 5G cell sites

Ron Duncan GCI NEW.jpg

GCI, Alaka’s largest communications provider, has gone live with its first 5G cell sites in Anchorage with technology partner Ericsson.

"In June of 2019, we committed to launching 5G service in the spring of 2020. I am proud to announce today we have delivered on that commitment," said Ron Duncan (pictured), CEO and co-founder of GCI.

"We have upgraded our wireless core, and we intend to upgrade the vast majority of cell sites in Anchorage, Eagle River and Girdwood to our 5-band 5G New Radio solution by the end of the year. At that point, we will have created essentially a brand-new wireless network in Anchorage, comparable in quality and performance to GCI's industry-leading cable modem network."

"Our Hometown 5G project is introducing standards-based 5G NR technology to Alaska. 5G is a fundamental enabling technology. As it matures, 5G will support innovative consumer and business applications, including IoT, smart cities, connected vehicles and eHealth."

Hometown 5G will combine GCI's radio spectrum and metro fibre assets to create a network, five times faster than before.

Additionally, all parts of the cell site will be outfitted with five radios to utilise GCI's low-band and mid-band radio spectrum, improving both speed and coverage, particularly in-building coverage.

While GCI's metro fibre network will provide the broadband connectivity needed to support these upgraded cell sites.

"This increase in wireless speeds and coverage comes at a time when data connectivity is more important than ever," added Duncan.

"I want to emphasise that this increase will also benefit our LTE customers, not just users of 5G handsets. This is a win for all GCI wireless customers and for all of Anchorage."

Now that the 5G service has been launched GCI will focus on completing its 2020 cell site upgrade plan with Ericsson. 

"We're proud to partner with GCI to deploy 5G in Anchorage to give Alaskans the network quality and speed they want and need," said Rob Johnson, head of customer unit regional carriers for Ericsson North America.

 "Ericsson and GCI have had a long-standing partnership to connect customers in some of the most remote communities in Alaska, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with GCI to turn the Last Frontier into the First Frontier with 5G."

Speaking on the Hometown 5G project, the mayor of Anchorage says that the project represents an investment of tens of millions of dollars in the local economy, creating a platform for innovation in the region.

"Anchorage has always aspired to be on the cutting edge of communication and the extension of 5G service in our community helps us get there," said Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.

"The COVID-19 pandemic brings home how critical high-quality, high-speed communication is for our businesses and our families."