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Connecting Alaskans through bold modernization

Alaska’s GCI and Ericsson modernize a network and ignite new growth

Case study: Alaska’s GCI and Ericsson modernize the network and ignite new growth

In Alaska, an investment in network modernization sparks transformation.



Alaska’s GCI Communication Corp. (GCI) partnered with Ericsson to rethink and redesign every cell site in Anchorage, from the ground up.


GCI was losing wireless customers and market share because network performance was simply not meeting expectations.


GCI decided to thoroughly modernize its network, with Ericsson as its partner. Both parties took a fresh approach to wireless strategy in order to improve reliability, capacity and customer experience. Together, Ericsson and GCI designed and deployed Alaska’s first statewide 5G network, offering the highest availability and the highest speeds in the Anchorage market.

“The scope of the Anchorage modernization project is very bold. We aimed to design and deploy the first statewide 5G network with the highest availability and the highest speeds in the market.”

Chris Mace, Vice President of Technology Solutions and Chief Engineer, GCI

The challenge

The GCI wireless network was a fragmented patchwork of technologies assembled over years of acquisitions, multiple generations of technologies and many vendors. Service performance and reliability was degraded. Capacity could not keep up with customers’ data demands. With their needs unmet and a less-than-optimal experience, GCI’s customers were going elsewhere. The need was urgent, and GCI had to act quickly.

As a company, we didn’t approach this modernization as business-as-usual. We could see that we needed to make changes in order to create a more sustainable future….The results we achieved as a result of investing in our network exceeded our expectations. We’ve had 15 consecutive quarters of postpaid growth and seen a significant reduction in churn on customers who choose GCI+. We have our eyes on the future as we expand our 5G network to other parts of Alaska.
Maureen Moore, Chief Customer Experience Officer, GCI

Climbing worker

The solution

GCI and Ericsson have a long history of working together on innovative solutions to bring connectivity to the people in Alaska. The trust built over those collaborations led GCI to turn to Ericsson for help in modernizing the network. GCI could leverage Ericsson’s global 5G network experience, end-to-end solution breadth and understanding of GCI’s regional market to develop solutions and implement the project successfully.

GCI and Ericsson set a very aggressive timeline: to upgrade and deploy a 5G network and core in Anchorage in less than two years. To accomplish this, GCI and Ericsson fundamentally reconceived the way their teams collaborated. They shifted from separate teams to a fully integrated team co located in Anchorage. 

The integrated team rethought and redesigned every macro cell site in Anchorage from the ground up. It addressed the factors limiting GCI’s network, including reliability challenges, limited capacity and less-than optimal customer experience. The solution deployed all of GCI’s wireless RF spectrum assets and all of their wireline fiber and transport backhaul capabilities. 

Key products and solutions in this case include:

The Ericsson Radio System RAN Compute portfolio

The Ericsson Radio System Radio Access Network (RAN) Compute portfolio powered by Ericsson Silicon offers the versatility and flexibility required for all site solutions including indoor and outdoor units supporting macro and micro sites. Ericsson RAN Compute products feature the smallest footprint and lowers power consumption in industry benchmarks.

Ericsson Radio System

Ericsson Radio System is an end-to-end modular and scalable radio access network consisting of hardware, software and services. The portfolio includes products in the areas of Antenna, Radio, RAN Compute, Site and Transport solutions – all managed by a common management system. Ericsson Radio System is designed to manage all site types and traffic scenarios, even as networks grow in technology and capacity – delivering industry-leading performance on the smallest site footprint with the lowest energy consumption.

The result

Faster speeds for more Alaskans and super growth for GCI

Together, GCI and Ericsson fully upgraded 76 macro cell sites in Anchorage within a year and a half, well ahead of expectations. With two-times faster speeds, Alaska’s first 5G network greatly improves customer experience…and has delivered 15 consecutive quarters of postpaid growth for GCI.

With a blazing fast, high-capacity new 5G network, GCI is now strategically positioned to offer high-speed data and improved 5G wireless service, including a highly successful signature premium product called GCI+ that combines wireless lines plus high-speed data. GCI is also well prepared for future use cases for consumer and business in both the mobility spaces and fixed broadband area.


macro cell sites upgraded


faster speeds


consecutive quarters of postpaid growth

Want to know more about how an investment in network modernization can spark transformation?

Read the full story to learn how GCI modernized their network and in turn saw growth.


Download the Case study