Ericsson and GCI are partnering to deliver the first 5G service to the "Last Frontier" and help to support the development of the country’s most northern smart city.
Anchorage, the state of Alaska’s largest city, has announced its first 5G service via a partnership with Ericsson and GCI.
It will be the nation’s northernmost 5G network and will support the local government’s aspirations to make Anchorage the most northern smart city.
Starting this summer, the partners will deploy Ericsson’s 3GPP standards-based 5G New Radio (NR) hardware and software to 82 macro cell sites across the Municipality of Anchorage from Girdwood to Eklutna, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island.
GCI’s metro fibre network will provide backhaul services to these sites, which include both towers and building locations. The project will be completed in 2020 with initial 5G service coming online in the first half of the year.
"We are committed to providing superior 5G wireless service to the residents of Anchorage just as we already provide the fastest internet service," said GCI CEO Ron Duncan. "We are bringing all our assets – fibre, spectrum, wireless footprint, Alaska expertise – to bear on that commitment."
GCI’s metro fibre network and cable plant already offers 1GB cable modem service to 95 per cent of Anchorage households. GCI controls more low/mid-band mobile radio spectrum than any other wireless provider in Anchorage. And it has more macro cell sites in Anchorage than any other Alaska wireless provider.
"Smart city technology enables the municipality to deliver services like transit and power more efficiently, reducing costs and improving the lives of our residents"
"The combination of our assets and Ericsson’s industry-leading 5G solution will increase the capacity of our Anchorage wireless network by 10 times or more and also provide better coverage," said Duncan. "All of our customers will benefit from this increase in capacity."
He added that much as the transition from 3G to 4G LTE paved the way for game-changing services such as mobile ride hailing and remote telemedicine, the move to 5G will enable yet another wave of innovation in Alaska, including IoT (Internet of Things) applications in the home, business and industrial areas like the North Slope.
The Municipality of Anchorage already uses a "light grid" to improve efficiency for municipal street lights and is exploring programmes that rely on automated systems and connectivity to deliver services more efficiently to residents.
"Smart city technology enables the municipality to deliver services like transit and power more efficiently, reducing costs and improving the lives of our residents," said Anchorage mayor Ethan Berkowitz. "GCI’s investment in a faster urban wireless network helps Anchorage remain competitive and helps us retain and attract business and talent."