Since its founding thirty years ago, GCI (NASDAQ: GNCMA) has been dedicated to one thing—delivering great services to ALL the people of Alaska.
In 1979, two Alaskan entrepreneurs—Ron Duncan and Bob Walp—had the idea that competition in the state could lower customer costs, increase options, and spur investments. Three years later their fledgling company, GCI, made its first long-distance call over the company’s own network. In 1987, GCI became a publicly traded company. Since then its story has been one of robust growth as it has steadily delivered on its original mission to connect more Alaskans to each other and the outside world via phone service, cable television, Internet, distance education and tele-health services.
GCI is now Alaska's largest, home-grown, publicly traded company, employing more than 1,600 Alaskans and delivering service in over 200 Alaskan communities. Its network, the largest in Alaska, is composed of fiber-optic systems, satellites, and metropolitan area network facilities. That broadband platform is the only one of its kind in Alaska and allows the company to provide customized services to Alaska and the Lower 48, connecting many previously rural and underserved communities to new economic opportunities. In the past decade alone, GCI has invested more than $2 billion in Alaska's infrastructure.
A key milestone for GCI came in 1997, with the launch of the SchoolAccess program. Like the founding of the company itself, it was an innovative idea whose time had come: build out the GCI network to as many rural communities as possible, thereby giving previously disadvantaged students access to broadband and advanced communication tools so they could go on to compete successfully in an increasingly global economy. A year later, when the E-Rate program started, additional federal support for telecommunications and Internet services became available to schools and libraries, and demand for SchoolAccess services took off. In 2002 SchoolAccess launched distance learning services (DSL) to 85 Alaska schools and 4 years later hosted a video call that gave about 300 Alaska students the opportunity to interact with and learn from scientists with the NASA space shuttle program.
Now in its sixteenth year, GCI SchoolAccess has continued to innovate, offering an ever-expanding suite of communication technology and services even as GCI’s broadband network has continued to grow and the technical sophistication and education requirements of rural schools have dramatically increased. Most recently we restructured our services into three main categories—Connections, Essentials, and Cloud Services—all of which include full arrays of state-of-the-art, highly adaptable digital technologies that are custom-designed for today’s K-12 learning environment.
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"Our goals are never about the technology, but about instruction using technology in a variety of ways. GCI has been flexible and responsive enough to support our instructional integration as we have grown and changed as an organization."
- John Concilus, Director of Educational Technology, Bering Strait School District
"The expertise that GCI provided in setting up the (distance learning) system and in working with us as we learned to operate it was very beneficial to our educators, who wanted to focus on the content and not the technology. With GCI's support we have reached over 5,000 students across the U.S. since our program launched in 2005."
- Darin Trobaugh, Education Program Coordinator, Alaska SeaLife Center
"GCI and their team of Engineers in Anchorage are a force to be reckoned with. They have continually proven over the years to be a team player with ASTE."
- Todd Schechter, Chief Networking Engineer, Alaska Society of Technology in Education
"Petersburg City School District is very pleased with its relationship with GCI. The district considers GCI to be a strong and important partner in the overall mission of providing an outstanding education to the students of Petersburg. As a "cutting edge", "one-to-one laptop" remote island district that relies very heavily upon stable, fast, and trouble free broadband service, the district has come to expect exceptional service from GCI as the norm."
- Robert Thomason, Ed.D., Superintendent, Petersburg City Schools
"GCI's SchoolAccess program has not only pioneered the delivery of video technology in bush Alaska, they have wrapped content and outreach around their service adding immense value. One Vision is proud to support the efforts of this innovative partner."
- George Woltors, NW Territory Manager, One Vision
"GCI’s contribution of live streaming the events during our National Competition was a great success. Our schools and families that were unable to attend the event had the opportunity to see their student(s) in person. Without GCI this would not have happened!"
- Les Martisko, Ph.D., CEO, United States Academic Decathlon
"GCI SchoolAccess has serviced the Jemez Mountain School District for the past seven years impeccably. GCI has developed a product that eliminates many of the pitfalls of traditional piece-meal approaches to implement Internet services by bundling the most critical services into a concise package. Additionally, GCI is well established in the navigation of E-Rate protocols, has an outstanding technical support team, and has a highly competent education program manager."
- Adan Delgado, Former Superintendent, Jemez Mountain School District
"We have a tradition of providing our faculty, staff, and students with the most up-to-date technology that can be made available, and GCI makes carrying on that tradition a possibility. GCI is instrumental in the planning, designing, and implementation of our distance learning services. This support, along with the broadband services provided by GCI, has allowed our distance learning program to be second to none in Alaska."
- George Gladish, TAI Coordinator, Lower Kuskokwim School District
"GCI School Access has been a great partner for Ilisagvik College. In 2012 and 2013, they donated funds to support our annual STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) camp, which provides a fun and educational opportunity for rural Alaskan youth. We are very grateful to GCI School Access for their sponsorship!"
- Pearl Brower, President, Ilisagvik College
"GCI has been providing technical support for videoconferencing events at the ISTE Conferences in San Antonio and San Diego to the IVC Operations Teams for the past two years. Their knowledge and experience has been a key to our success."
- Paul Hieronymus, IVC Operations Chairman, 2013 ISTE Conference
"GCI SchoolAccess makes it possible for our coaches and volunteers to communicate in the villages and most importantly make sure the students are safe by providing our coaches with mobile technology in the villages."
- Lars Flora, Director, NANANordic
"CILC has partnered with GCI SchoolAccess over the last few years on many projects that have benefited and enriched the life of people both in Alaska and the lower 48. Much of this would not have been possible without the leadership of Dr. Pam Lloyd."
- Janet L. Zanetis, CEO, The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC)
"Our administration realized our aggressive approach to educational achievement could only be met with a network that can support the growing number of mobile devices in our district and the increasing use of video conferencing for our classes. GCI SchoolAccess helped us transition off satellite and onto a terrestrial service that supports these goals."
- Dan Walker, Assistant Superintendent, Lower Kuskokwim School District
"The most powerful thing in a traditional classroom is the connection between the teacher and the student. And that connection happens over two-way video."
- Gary Baldwin, former superintendent, Lower Kuskokwim School District
"GCI is a strong educational partner with the Alaska Distance Education Consortium, helping to expand broadband, bring technical solutions, and instructional programming to high need areas."
- John Monahan, Alaska Distance Education Consortium
"Educating 4 Leadership has benefited enormously from our partnership with SchoolAccess to provide student leadership and 1:1 resources for Alaska, other states, and the UK at present. We consider the contributions from SchoolAccess to be completely vital to our work and success during the past three years. We appreciate their support!"
- Dr. Mark Standley, CEO, Educating 4 Leadership
"In the 15 years I have been an administrator in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District we have been utilizing Broadband services from GCI. The distances and the cold and lack of infrastructure are tough challenges, but GCI is among the best of all vendors that we use for services to our students, faculties, and schools."
- Norman Eck, Ph.D., Superintendent, Northwest Arctic Borough School District
"GCI has been an instrumental partner in helping the Alaska Zoo develop a Long Distance Education Program. This program provides a venue for the Alaska Zoo to expand the reach of its Education classes through video conferencing and the ability to share Education Programs with students throughout our state."
- Patrick Lampi, Executive Director, Alaska Zoo
"GCI is a company with an exceptionally strong reputation for its expertise in building out networks in rough terrains and for their deep knowledge in all aspects of videoconferencing. Throughout my several years of partnering with GCI, I have come to learn that those who work within the education division are dedicated to the mission of bringing world-class opportunities to all learners across Alaska, including some of the most remote corners of the state."
- Ruth Blankenbaker, Former CEO, The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC)
"GCI has a long track record of being a friend to schools and libraries in the State of Alaska. Despite the unpredictable timing of E-rate funding, GCI's willingness to work with anchor institutions by appling discounts and handling E-rate invoicing is a welcome relief when staff is small. Steve Walker and his team at GCI deserve a big THANK YOU for finding ways to make the billing process understandable and manageable for the smallest of our schools and libraries."
- Valerie Oliver, Alaska USF/E-Rate Coordinator for Alaska Schools and Libraries