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New Survey Points to Frustrations Among Nome GCI Customers

A GCI telecommunications tower in rural Alaska, silhouetted by a fiery sunset
An example of GCI's infrastructure buildout in rural Alaska. Photo: GCI.

On Friday, GCI released the results of a survey issued after consumer concerns surfaced at a February meeting in Nome.

“You know, we’re an Alaska company,” says Senior Director of Communications for GCI, Heather Handyside. “And we really believe that if community members have a concern they should hear from leadership in our community. So that’s why we brought a whole team to Nome, so we can listen first-hand to what their experience is.”

Held February 28th in Old St. Joe’s meeting hall, the GCI leadership’s meeting was contentious, as citizens relayed their frustration regarding the internet provider’s service to rural communities. Complaints of phantom data usage, spotty coverage, and frustrating customer service were just a few concerns raised at the meeting.

After their Nome visit, GCI says it took time to evaluate the responses and feelings of meeting attendees.

“We administered a survey after holding the meeting; that way, we can accurately capture peoples’ concerns. And based on those concerns, some of the issues involved older equipment, and people needed new cable modems, routers,” said Handyside.

According to an email sent Friday, the survey statistics came from the 10% of Nome GCI customers, who responded to the questionnaire.

GCI’s survey reported three main findings: 90% of Nome customers are aware of user data usage, 50% check usage regularly, and most Nomeites are appreciative of local staff but frustrated with the customer service line.

As a result of the tour and surveys, Handyside says business practices won’t change. However, Nome’s local GCI office has installed a test modem to help identify possible unusual usage patterns. And GCI has also provided their call centers with additional training, as per Nome’s suggestion.

Handyside says the international technology firm Ericsson will be coming to Alaska this summer to look at some of the unique conditions facing Alaskan internet.

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