GCI launches cell tower near Coldfoot

For the first time ever, there’s some cell service along the Dalton Highway. GCI launched coverage late last month in the Coldfoot area.

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Company spokeswoman Heather Handyside said service is available in the vicinity of a tower constructed near mile 175 of the Dalton.

”We just completed a $500,000 cellular tower, and our customers on that area of the highway, probably about a 15-mile stretch around the tower, will be able to access calls, texts, and also 3G data services,” Handyside said.

Handyside says the tower is the first of several GCI is planning to construct over the next year and a half to two years, to extend coverage along the 415-mile-long road between Livengood and Deadhorse. The highway, which crosses the Yukon River and Arctic Circle, is a popular tourist route, as well as year round supply conduit for North Slope oilfields.

”I believe this is the longest stretch of highway in America, without cell coverage, so this will be a huge improvement for public safety for users of the highway, both travelers and the trucking companies who use it,” Handyside said. “I think there’s over 250 trucks a day at times on the highway, so its busy.”

Mobile communication along the Dalton Highway, or Haul Road, is currently primarily via CB radio and sat phone. Handyside said the addition of cell service along the Dalton is part of $30 million GCI is spending to expand coverage statewide.

Correction: This story previously misquoted Heather Handyside as saying the tower was $5,000. It’s actually $500,000.