FAIRBANKS — Alaska telecommunications company GCI announced a plan Sunday to drastically increase its Internet speed offerings in Fairbanks.

The company announced a plan to bring 1-gigabit-per-second Internet to customers in the Fairbanks market by 2016, following a company-sponsored scavenger hunt at Veterans Memorial Park on Sunday afternoon.

Several telecommunication companies have pledged 1-gbps Internet in metropolitan areas around the country in the past few years, but the average consumer has access to 1-gbps Internet only in a select few communities in the United States so far.

GCI’s announcement makes Fairbanks the third community in Alaska where GCI has promised to run fiber-optic cable to increase its Internet speed offerings. GCI made a similar announcement in Juneau in September, adding Alaska’s second and third largest communities to Anchorage on the list of locations to receive the 1-gbps service.

The move comes less than one month after telecommunications giant Verizon debuted service in Alaska.

GCI Vice President of Consumer Services Paul Landes, who was in Fairbanks for the announcement Sunday, said the decision stems from the company’s decision to focus on its three major markets in Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage.

Despite the speed increase, Landes said GCI has no plans to remove its cap to data usage. The fastest plan offered by GCI, 250 mbps, comes with a data cap of 500 gigabytes.

Landes said the purpose of GCI’s data caps is to manage the strain on its network and ensure it can offer the speeds it advertises to customers.

As GCI works to make its promise a reality by 2016, Landes said customers in the Fairbanks area could see options for incremental speed increases before 2016 but did not list any specific timelines for those increases.

Contact staff writer Weston Morrow at 459-7520.

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