GCI and ACS Form Alaska Wireless Network

Alaska Wireless Network will be a subsidiary of both GCI and ACS. GCI will be the majority owner, and your bill will continue to come from the existing companies.

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David Morris, a vice-president with GCI, described the joint venture as a preemptive move against the larger carriers AT&T and Verizon.

“We realized between the two companies [GCI and ACS] that building two cell towers , having two switches, having two sets of fiber optic cable to provide the same service, it would be more efficient for us to reduce operating expenses, those capital expenditures, to combine those assets,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Morris said the new Alaska Wireless Network is for mobile coverage only not home internet or cable.

“If you look at the pricing right now, the local carriers are already less expensive than the national carriers. So, we’ll see,” he said.

The merger required approval from both the FCC and Department of Justice.

Senator Mark Begich serves on the Commerce Committee, which oversees federal wireless policy. He said the move is not anti-competitive.

“Verizon is going to play big. They’re going to put in a lot of capital,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “That’s going to create some competition, even more competition than we have today. And after that we have AT&T in there. Then you have three big players.”

As part of the approval, Alaska Wireless agreed to expand rural coverage. Morris said the new company will provide at least 2-G service to the bush. Some parts of rural Alaska will also get 4-G coverage.