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Alaska telecom companies say they’re staying on top of internet demand

was written by Lex Treinen , 2020-03-21 18:52:41

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Alaska telecommunications companies say they’re staying on top of the surge in internet traffic resulting from canceled work and school. 

“Since February, we’ve been looking at the pandemic and considering what kind of scenarios could occur, and based on our estimates, we’ve been doing some modeling to see some different levels of traffic that our network can handle,” said Heather Handyside, vice president of corporate communications for GCI, “Right now the network looks good.”

Handyside said that GCI’s modeling showed a surge of internet traffic around spring break, when the virus was expected to hit. It did just that, but Handyside said that so far, the spike isn’t as severe as some feared. 

“We haven’t seen anything exceed the activity during spring break, and I think we can attribute that to, you know, we do have a lot of folks working from home but I think perhaps there are less people working at their businesses and so it appears that things may be kind of evening out based on people’s change in location,” she said. 

Alaska Communications says its network is also holding up well. 

“The latest two releases of the Call of Duty® video game have put more demand on our network than recent events and our network continues to operate flawlessly,” wrote Heather Cavanaugh, Alaska Communications’ external affairs director in an email to Alaska Public Media.

Still, Handyside of GCI acknowledged that the spike in users could cause internet speeds to slow marginally.

Related: Read more coronavirus coverage from Alaska Public Media.

In the meantime, telecommunications companies Alaska Communications and GCI have both agreed not to cut customers’ service for non-payment as part of a larger national Keep America Connected pledge, which was started by the Federal Communications Commission. As part of that pledge, the companies are also waiving late fees and opening up hundreds of wifi hotspots to the public for free.

GCI also said it is going beyond that and providing free internet service and hardware to K-12 students and teachers whose classes have been moved online due to school cancellations. The company is doing the same for households that currently don’t have internet service, provided there is availability. 

ACS made the same pledge to students and teachers, including to university students and has also promised to waive long-distance overage fees related to the virus. 

And companies are working to ensure customers don’t have to worry about spreading infections in order to get service. In addition to shutting down their retail stores, GCI is offering policies such as self-installation of hardware to make sure that the virus isn’t spread through service technicians. 

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Kenai Fjords National Park. Kenai Fjords is usually accessed from Seward. Within the amazingly green waters of the Fjords is an abundant array of tidewater and piedmont glaciers. Marine wildlife includes otters, sea lions, harbor seals, humpback and orca whales, porpoises, puffins and kittiwakes. Kenai Fjords National Park is more conveniently reached by tour boats from Seward or by driving out to Exit Glacier, just outside of Seward. Wildlife and glacier exhibits can be found at the Small Boat Harbor visitor center and the Alaska Sealife Center. Many visitors get to Seward by way of cruise ship after an Inside Passage tour. For an awesome day trip, Seward and Kenai Fjords National Park can be reached by car or via the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage. Another excellent choice is the Park Connection Motorcoach, with daily summertime service and morning or afternoon departures from Anchorage. An excellent area to remain before or after an Alaska cruise, or for a number of nights during a land journey, Seward offers several distinctive lodging possibilities. A cruise into the Kenai Fjords National Park is really a must during your visit to Alaska. Kenai Fjords cruises out of Seward vary from five, 6, 8 or ten hours in duration and encompass various areas of the Park, including Resurrection Bay, Fox Island, Holgate Arm and the Northwestern Fjord. Other top interesting attractions include a relaxed hike to the face of Exit Glacier and a trip to the Alaska SeaLife Center. Sea kayaking and fishing out of Seward are good ways to achieve more up-close and personal experience with the Kenai Fjords surroundings. Seward also offers an excellent selection of unique gift shops and cafes, in addition to beachcombing, hiking, and horseback riding.

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Going To Kenai Fyords National Park in Alaska