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GCI Users in Nome Experience Intermittent Coverage For Several Days

Alaska telecom company GCI said Nome and Unalakleet customers can expect an upgrade to 3G service in the next week. Photo: Jared Earle, Creative Commons

Over the weekend, several Nome-ites reported having connectivity issues with their GCI cellphones in town. The telecommunications company says only a handful of customers are being affected and a GCI technician has been sent to Nome to fix the problem.

“And it seems to be especially prominent on the west side of town. So, we are kind of troubleshooting the issue, and I think we have some clues, but we are sending a technician.”

– Heather Handyside

Heather Handyside, a spokesperson for GCI, says they flew a technician in from Unalakleet yesterday to resolve what seems to be an isolated issue.

Despite a GCI phone message and post suggesting there were larger statewide problems going on with the company’s service on Saturday, Handyside says Nome’s connectivity issues are only affecting a small limited area within town.

“We haven’t had similar reports from other customers in other areas so it seems to be isolated in Nome at this time, and especially in that one area of town; which could indicate it’s a piece of specific equipment on one of our towers that broadcasts to a certain geographic area.”

Nome resident Michael Burnett was one of the GCI customers who reported having service issues over the weekend. He says he first started noticing intermittent coverage Thursday night which then continued and got worse through Monday afternoon.

“It was a little more progressive throughout the day [Friday], calls were dropping, it would only work via Wi-Fi and that was after restarting my phone several times, doing all the things they tell you to do.…Saturday I woke up and [had] no signal whatsoever, no phone signal of any kind. The phone kept telling me there was no signal, no data, so I couldn’t even update the calendar or anything.”

Burnett was not the only one reporting issues with their cellphone service over the weekend. Some Nome residents mentioned not being able to make calls at all while others had just intermittent coverage for a few days.

This is certainly not the first time GCI users have complained about their spotty cellphone service in Nome. However, with the physical and geographical challenges that come with living in rural Alaska, off of the road system, GCI lists its coverage for the Nome area as a step below LTE at best. The telecommunications company setup 3G service in the region within the last couple years, while more recently it unrolled 5G service in Anchorage.

Burnett points out that while not being able to use a cellphone is not the most troublesome thing going on in the world, or even the state right now, it’s been more than just an inconvenience for him to not be able to call his friends and family over the last few days.

GCI’s Heather Handyside says the company hopes to have the Nome service issues resolved soon. They received permission from the City of Nome to send a technician to the community yesterday.

Image at top: A mobile device connected to a 3G network through GCI’s coverage in the Nome area. Photo from Jared Earle, Creative Commons.

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