ten-mile range. They can text up to ten miles
and push to talk up to five miles away using
Beartooth and a custom phone app.
Impact of Services in Remote Areas
Upgraded telecom solutions are making it
more feasible to work, live, and play in some
of the remote regions of Alaska. ASTAC provides the largest cell coverage footprint on
the North Slope, from Point Thomson on
the east to west of Alpine, south to Franklin
Bluffs, and up to seven miles out in the Beaufort Sea going north. ASTAC’s cell service is
helping whalers stay in contact while at sea
within the seven-mile coverage area, which
enhances their ability to work more safely.
ASTAC’s Beartooth allows search and res-
cue parties to use their cell phones to connect
even when they’re off the telecommunica-
tions grid, enhancing their ability to perform
life-saving work. Beartooth is also providing
an extra level of safety and communications
for hunting parties.
Oil and gas exploration both west and
south of Nuiqsut (on the Colville River) is
enhanced due to cellular coverage through
an ASTAC partnership.
GCI is also seeing the positive impact of
telecommunications in rural Alaska. For
example, a search and rescue team was able
to rescue a snow machiner who was lost in
a blizzard because he was able to send them
his location from his iPhone and a business
customer was able to use his smartphone to
approve time cards for his employees while
he was fishing on the river in Bethel.
Enhanced telecom services are also having
a positive effect on shopping in the Bush. In
fact, shortly after some of the communities
outside Bethel received enhanced services,
one freight carrier became overloaded with
Amazon boxes: with faster data speeds, residents were able to shop online instead of having to purchase all their items locally.
GCI is also providing a telecom solution
for teachers who move to Alaska’s remote
areas from the Lower 48. Many of them
find that their service from national carriers doesn’t work in some parts of the state so
they switch to GCI to remedy the situation.
Telecommunications technology is also
helping to save lives. GCI’s support of tele-
medicine and telehealth is making it possible
for Alaskans in remote communities to get
in contact with specialists instead of having
to travel thousands of miles into Anchorage.
This is especially crucial given the fact that
faster access to healthcare can save lives. “In
the healthcare world, time is life,” Nelson
Telecom services are also having a professional impact on the lives young people.
Thanks to high-speed Internet service,
Byron Nicholai of Toksook Bay has been able
to share his singing, dancing, and other talents with the world. His “I Sing, You Dance”
videos have made him a YouTube sensation
and led him to perform at the White House
for President Barrack Obama and other venues worldwide.
Social media was instrumental in the success of Nick Hanson from the 750-person village of Unalakleet. Hanson was featured on
America Ninja Warrior and now has a broad
platform to promote the benefits of exercise
to youth everywhere. “These are the stories
that make a difference to people who live in
rural Alaska,” says Lloyd. “We provide service to the world, no matter the zip code.” R
Tracy Barbour has been an Alaska
Business contributor since 1999. As a
former Alaskan, she is uniquely positioned
to offer in-depth insight and enjoys
writing about a variety of topics.
The terrain in rural Alaska
can be rugged and
unforgiving, which make the
logistics of the TERRA
build-out challenging at times.
For instance, in southwest
Alaska near Naknek,
a diver had to plunge
through frigid ice to lay fiber
under a river bed.