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GCI.net page on DSLReports
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Reviews:
bullet 21 reviews (4 good) (7 bad)
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Review by McLovin See Profile

  • Location: Fairbanks,Fairbanks North Star,AK
  • Cost: $280 per month
  • Install: about 4 days
Good "Stable & fast connection, fastest available in Alaska."
Bad "High cost compared to rest of country, low caps."
Overall "The only real option for internet worth anything in Alaska"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:

Ordered the "Ultimate Package Plus" on 5/2/08, which includes the digital cable package (151 channels), VoIP phone (local and 500 long distance minutes), and 320Kbps/128Kbps internet. for $89.99

Upgraded the cable service to get the preferred service to add an additional 80 channels, plus the HD package and HBO premium HD package. Also added an HD DVR, which is required to add any HD package. Also upgraded internet connectivity to 10Mbps/1Mbps. Total in upgrades is roughly $105.00/mo.

I may scale the bandwidth back to 7Mbps/768Kbps later to save some money, but I have got some catching up to do on the internet!

They had to delay the install because they were out of stock on HD DVRs, and they wanted to wait to roll me on a new cable modem they are going to start using (DOCSIS 3?!? *crosses fingers*). Anyway, the install date is set up for Monday, 5/19/08. Customer service has been great. They offered me one free bill, and $20 off the following two bills for the inconvenience.

I will update on 5/19 after the install to advise of status and installation procedures. Along with pictures, potentially.

UPDATE 5/20/2008

Install went OK. They were still missing the DVR, however they did get into the store that day, the tech just didn't have one with him as they had gotten in about an hour before the truck roll.

The only real thing I have against anything that went wrong, was that the installer was 2 hours late. Thus delaying the account creation until the next business day, sticking me at the lowest possible cable modem provision at 128Kbps/64Kbps. Needless to say I just went to bed early and didn't even bother.

Now that I have my nice HD DVR and the cable modem at 10Mbps/1Mbps. Speedtests show accurately...

Download #1
------------------------------------------------------------
File size transferred : 14.65 MB (15360000 bytes)
Total time taken : 12.27 seconds (12265 milliseconds)
Throughput : 1252.0 KB/sec [Kilobyte-per-second]
= 1.25 MB/sec [Megabyte-per-second]
= 10016.0 Kbps [Kilobit-per-second]
= 10.02 Mbps [Megabit-per-second]

Upload #1
------------------------------------------------------------
File size transferred : 14.65 MB (15360000 bytes)
Total time taken : 128.14 seconds (128141 milliseconds)
Throughput : 119.0 KB/sec [Kilobyte-per-second]
= 0.12 MB/sec [Megabyte-per-second]
= 952.0 Kbps [Kilobit-per-second]
= 0.95 Mbps [Megabit-per-second]

The plan is nice. Cable TV picture is actually outstanding. I also ordered the HD package and the display is phenomonal. 1080i over CATV is great, and will be worth its weight in gold once football season starts!

UPDATE 11/16/08:

So service is great. Internet has been quite solid (had some instability, found out it was the routers fault), couple of outages, but none lasting more than an hour or two. Only complaint I have is that they are adding more HD channels, which is good. The bad part is that they nearly doubled the price of the HD package without telling me... Bill comes in the mail that's $20 more than usual... They raised the price of the HD package from $15/mo. to $25/mo. But they STILL don't have the local channels in HD, which SUCKS... GCI told me however that it faults to the local stations not being capable of HD, which I have a hard time believing... Customer service did a stunning job, crediting me for my frustration. But I still elected to keep the HD package...

As far as internet connection goes, its great for the New Xbox Experience. 10Mbps streaming HD Netflix rocks, video loads in ~20 seconds, plays without hiccups, as long as your roommate doesn't start trying to download stuff against you... Upload appears to be slacking, going at about 820Kbps consistantly. Several modem and router reboots does not improve anything...

UPDATE 7/7/2010

Been a while since I've updated this. Not too long ago, they bumped the packages up, so I'm now getting 12Mbps/1Mbps (notice how they didn't bump the upload??!?) and stayed at the same price. I get every bit of that 12Mbps and even more, usually get 12.5Mbps Or 1.54MBps downstream sustained. I've seen some pretty high speed bursts, but those don't last long and are quite rare. Also a change from the last review is they finally did add at least 2 (sometimes 3) of the local channels in HD. Total of like 65 HD channels now that I get (less than whats there because I only get showtime and HBO, not Cinemax or Starz).

However, the downside is, not long after the new packages went in to effect, GCI launched their new "Fair Use Policy" (»portal.gci.net/usage/fair_use.ht ··· use.html) in an effort to apparently thwart heavy downloaders. Now, I don't download a lot of stuff, and last month I hit 130GB. That's Netflix streaming, gaming on multiple platforms, two roommates plus myself (doing the same, mind you) and we are exceeding this newly established policy. That said, we haven't gotten any notices yet, so I'm assuming if we keep our heads down, we should be in good shape. The sad part is, that the lower packages have much lower fair use limitations, going as low as 40GB. Sad part is, they are measuring a GB as 1,000MB, which is not the case. 1GB=1024MB. Granted, there isn't that much of the difference, but as the customer, I'm getting shortchanged by 2400MB over the month based on their poor calculations. I have yet to personally see these get enforced, but they have ground to stand on now nonetheless.

I wouldn't put it past GCI to start enforcing these limits here pretty soon. I think these caps are pretty crazy low, especially considering the bandwidth given. 250GB for the 12Mbps package is adequate, thats what TekSavvy is doing in Canada, why can't others fall behind that logic?

I don't have much to complain about, I have not yet gotten any complaints against me to stop doing what I'm doing, and GCI isn't charging anyone if they go over, just a stern talking-to is in order apparently.I'll just say I haven't gotten a call yet, and if I do, they may not like what I have to say, especially since I'm not paying any less money for less service. $1 per GB? Hard drive storage is cheaper than that... I can buy a 500GB hard drive for less than $100 each month and fill it somewhere else. Kind of lame when you think about it...

Update: 5/20/13
-------------------------------------------

It's been a while since I've updated this, and GCI has changed their plans around quite a bit since the last update. It's kind of funny reading this review and see a timeline of sorts as to how their services have evolved over the years.

We are now running on the 22Mbps/2Mbps plan for $109.99/mo. (which is an upgrade to the ultimate package triple-play with them) with a 200,000MB/month cap, billed at $0.001/MB after the cap. Sadly, in my congested apartment complex, speeds crawl to around 6Mbps on average these days. Didn't use to be a huge issue, since 38Mbps to the node on DOCSIS 2 still allowed those on the previous top 12Mbps plan to have 2 users download full speed with room left over. Now with 22Mbps plans, and still using the aging DOCSIS 2 cable platform, users are suffering while GCI tries to play catchup.

GCI has done DOCSIS 3 upgrades in the Anchorage area and offer new 50Mbps/5Mbps plans, which their marketing team has dubbed "re:D", which is apparently hip for "broadband redefined". While I'd hardly call that redefining broadband, it does give me hope that I'll soon be free of node congestion issues.

Honestly 22Mbps/2Mbps would be great for us, but sadly I hardly get to see those speeds. Ever. Unless its early in the morning. Or sometimes during the day on a weekday.

Their tech support and customer service has been awesome and willing to help. Unfortunately this will just take time until upgrades are completed "this summer". I have boosted the ratings for pre sales info (new materials make it really easy to know what you're signing up for), as well as tech support, while dropping the rating for services.

-----------------------

UPDATE 12/20/2013

As I stated in my last update, their upgrades have rolled through (twice, but I'll get to that), and I began subscribing to their "re:D" service on October 3rd at 50Mbps/5Mbps with a monthly cap of 488GB (500,000MB) for $200/month. Initially, I was seeing issues reaching 50Mbps consistently especially during peak times, but conversations with their technical staff indicated that this was not going to be the case for long.

Indeed that was true. On November 22nd, all of those issues went away. And less than a month later, December 19th, GCI announced upgrades to the existing re:D service to 100Mbps/5Mbps with the same cap for $25 less per month than I was paying before. Along with promises from upper management that the cap situation will soon change.

Two days into the upgrades now, 100/5 solid. No noticeable deviations.

Other plans are still as they are for the moment. Not sure what's going to be coming down the pipe.

UPDATE 1/29/2014

Over a month now, and speeds are still completely solid. No issues at all. Seeing a bit higher than subscribed levels on the upload as well, usually about 5.7 or so.

Loving it.

Updated ratings to reflect properly.

---------------

UPDATE 6/6/2014

We moved into a new house 3 weeks ago, about 4 miles from our previous apartment. We took our cable TV and internet service with us. Called GCI on Tuesday to schedule a tech to come by and help out with the install. We scheduled the service call between 1-3PM with a 30 minute call ahead. He called me at 11AM saying that he was ahead of schedule and could meet us sooner, or he could come by during the scheduled time. It was a good time for us, we had the U-Haul packed up so we went over to the new place to meet him. I needed some wiring done as the previous owners left their satellite dish, and the coax drops were wired up to it. The tech was able to use the existing wiring and splice in the cable drop from the pedestal, which was still in good shape. Didn't charge me for it either.

GCI again upgraded bandwidth on May 8th for their "re:D" customers to 200Mbps downstream. Still only 5 upstream, but insiders at the company tell me that upgrades are underway to increase that. Getting full downstream bandwidth comes pretty close to maximizing upstream bandwidth as well just in sending acknowledgements back. But if downloads are ongoing and maxing downstream, web browsing now becomes a little sluggish for others on the same network. The upgrade also came with a $15 decrease in cost per month to $184.99.

-----------------

UPDATE 12/5/2014

In October, speeds were bumped again to 250Mbps/10Mbps. Using the Arris CM820 DOCSIS 3 modems, often times speeds struggled to get up to the provisioned maximum. With an 8x4 modem, downstream speeds were 80% of available bandwidth across 8 channels. I got notice that new modems were coming out and picked one up just the other day. The Hitron CDA3 DOCSIS 3 24x8 modem locks on to 24 of the 32 available downstream channels from the local CMTS with 40dB SNR almost across the board. Phenomenal signal levels. And now that the extra overhead bandwidth available, one can get 250Mbps real world during peak times.

Actual speeds test around 252/10, which is awesome. And the cost has not changed from the 184.99/mo. when the package was changed to 100Mbps/5Mbps.

»www.speedtest.net/my-result/3962 ··· 62623003

The plan still includes a 500,000MB cap, which is honestly fine for me. I wish the overages weren't as costly or there was an option for reducing bandwidth after the limit has been reached. At $1/1000MB, it gets costly pretty quick. Rogers for example offers an additional 250GB for $10/mo. or unlimited for $25 more per month. That seems more than fair to me. I don't really need the 250Mbps of speed either, but none of the other plans have been changed at all in 5 years. So without spending an arm and a leg in overages, its the only real option for me.

member for 9.7 years, 2009 visits, last login: a few hours ago
updated 90 days ago

Comments:

Review by bmialone See Profile

  • Location: Anchorage,Anchorage,AK
  • Cost: $180 per month
Bad "Slowest but most expensive Internet in the country with no restraints on Internet and cable profits greed"
Overall "Terrible company Alaskans are stuck with because there is no real competition"

First signed up with GCI in 2006. It took two months for them to get our account right and charge us properly. We had the new digital phone system there and it was unreliable. Sometimes we'd suddenly sound robotic to out-of-state callers, and sometimes they would sound robotic to us. We would have to hangup until GCI got the problem fixed.

In 2007 we moved to a house we purchased and the house was set for DSL, not cable. GCI tried to trick us and then force us into using their digital box for phone and we refused. We paid to have the old copper wire system hooked up, but it took over one month to get a dial tone on our phone! GCI claimed ACS was interfering. However, we continued to receive sales phone calls from GCI with chipper voices saying they were calling to upgrade our service, and even told us we had no choice at one point because it was legally required. We continued to refuse them and I finally told them since state authorities gave them free reign to run roughshod over Alaskans, I was reporting them to the feds if I received another call. I never received another call.

GCI screwed up our account records, with one office not knowing what the other was doing, merely because we moved! Then I noticed that we'd been charged for months a higher price for our bundled package than GCI had been charging other, newer customers so I emailed them several times asking why we'd been paying so much more for months. I never received a single response. We switched our Internet service to Clearwire and kept the GCI phone and cable TV service.

Irresponsible temporary mail carriers returned some of our GCI phone service statements as "undeliverable." I don't remember whether it was for the phone or cable service, but we continued receiving statements for one while others went missing. We didn't know that until we got a threatening letter from GCI telling us they were going to disconnect us and also turn us over to a collection agency. I immediately called them, paid in full, and also discovered at that time that we'd been moved to the deadbeat category by GCI because they'd had our statements returned as undeliverable. GCI just stopped sending them to us! Mind you, we were still paying for the other service every month, under the same name at the same address, yet GCI had no way to connect the accounts and figure out that something must be wrong since we were paying regularly and on time for one but missed a few of the other? Good customer service at least warranted a phone call to inquire what the problem might be, but we didn't receive that courtesy. We straightened out the problem with GCI, but the Alaska USPS remains an ongoing problem for all Alaskans and that's another story.

Clearwire was absolutely terrible, so we eventually dumped them and grudgingly went back to the only real game in town, GCI, for our Internet service. Pushing the bundled services as always, penalizing customers if we don't bundle, at one point we were paying over $200.00 a month for less speed, capped allowable data, and lousier service than we'd experienced in two other states. For a comparable package in AZ, for example, we paid a little over $100.00, and that included unlimited Internet with Cox. In fact, Cox provided faster speeds, the same for everyone residential (no tiers), with unlimited usage, for less than $50.00 a month. We are capped on GCI's plan and it costs us $109.99 a month IF we also pay for services we don't even use in a bundled plan, which is what took us to over $200.00 a month.

Finally I decided it was obscene, so we dumped the cable. I wanted to dump everything but the Internet service since we rarely even use our home phone and are paying a big chunk to AT&T for mobile smartphone service. However, the salesperson convinced the other household member we would spend less if we continued bundling, keeping the "free" basic cable and local/long distance phone service. Uh huh.

Nothing is free, of course. First, elsewhere, other cable companies provide at least two cable boxes free right off the top. During the many years we had cable service in other states, never did the monthly fee go up, which makes sense given the boxes were only growing older and technological advances were making delivery cheaper. GCI, however, provides only one, and over the years, since 2007, the rental charges for these stupid boxes have climbed from 4.95 a month to $6.99 and no doubt they will go up again this year. It is the same for the DVR box. The rental on the DVR box we've not had as long but it has still gone up from under $12.00 a month to almost $14.99 a month and I expect GCI to add another dollar to the monthly charge anytime now. GCI just suddenly adds another few cents to a dollar to the monthly charge on each piece of equipment and the customer is expected to pay it. Mind you, the equipment is only older, yet it costs more each month. It's pure profit. What a racket!

Oh, and that free basic cable? Most of the programming is either religious or infomercials! Even the major networks' shows are ditched by GCI so it can feed on the religious programming and infomercial troughs! In the mornings, it airs a national show, followed by infomercials, followed by a national show, followed by infomercials. That's on major national networks during regular programming hours the rest of the country is receiving the network's programming. Alaskans, we get only some of them because GCI wants to air infomercials. The other stations are either public service/local access, infomercial stations, two C-span stations, PBS, one or two children's stations, or religious. Religious and infomercial programming dominates GCI's basic cable service. So, what is the point of having it?

Between the phone service we don't use, the "free cable," paying for three boxes, and a high enough Internet plan we don't have to worry too much about accidentally overusing past the cap any given month (22Mbps/2Mbps 200,000 MB- the 4rth tier from the top tier plan) we are still paying $180.00 a month! That's almost $80.00 more than we paid Cox in AZ for FULL cable lineup, the same speed for everyone, no cap on our Internet usage, plus the HBO and Showtime channels! The only thing missing was the phone, but we don't use our phone. GCI just gets to take our money for it every month while rarely having to provide us the service.

There is no regulatory body anywhere in the state to complain to, except in Juneau for Juneau residents only. Juneau has enough savvy citizens that they wised up and voted for GCI to have to answer to their municipality like the cable companies throughout the rest of the country do. Granted, they have mini-monopolies because they are granted territories with no competitors, but if they go too far, those communities can complain to their regulatory bodies and have their licenses to operate there given to a competitor. GCI doesn't even have THAT for the entire state other than the tiny community of Juneau. GCI's website and billing statements even tell us there is no regulatory body for us to complain to. The head honcho of GCI still has the gall to complain about his customers being demanding ingrates who deserve what we get if we use data like does the rest of the country! Yes, we are in Alaska, but it is the 21st century and we are connected by land to the rest of the continent for Christ's sake. The "It's Alaska" excuse no longer holds water.

Every once-in-awhile, GCI hires companies to start calling us to sell us something more again, until we remind them we are on the Do Not Call list and they are breaking the law.

Despicable company.

member for 5.5 years, 3 visits, last login: 1.2 years ago
updated 1.2 years ago

Comments:

Review by jtel See Profile

  • Location: Sitka,Sitka,AK
  • Cost Contract price not specified.
Good "The Competition Only Offers 4mb Downloads"
Bad "Too Expensive"
Pre Sales information:
Connection Reliability:
Services:
Value for money:

My Other Reviews

·Full Channel TV ..
I just moved to Alaska from Cox/Fios territory where I was spoiled apparently.

I started out with the ultimate package which is 22mb down for $160/month. It delivered but I just couldn't see paying that much after getting 30mb down for less than $50 so I dropped to the 15mb ($70/month) and also dropped the cable for Directv.

With nothing else coming into the house from GCI they penalize you another $30 a month so it's apparently $100 a month for that. Unlike the 22 the 15 doesn't deliver 15 instead I get 10. It's $20 extra for not having cable and $10 extra for not having any other GCI service. Those 2 fees are not spelled out when buying either.

GCI caps the 15mb service at 100 gb a month which goes fairly fast using ondemand through Directv. When ACS supports 10mb here (no cap) I'm moving to that. I'll run a new inside wire for that so any performance issues will be ACS's problem.

ACS needs to run fiber either that or Alaska needs to support communities that want to run their own.

member for 9.6 years, 1121 visits, last login: 80 days ago
updated 2.4 years ago

Comments:
wirelessdog

join:2008-07-15
Queen Anne, MD
kudos:1

No basis

You have absolutely no basis for leaving a poor review.
jtel

join:2005-06-28
Bristol, RI

Re: No basis

I've got the 15mb plan and only get 10mb speeds. The caps are ridiculously low on all their plans and the prices are astronomically high with hidden fees.
wirelessdog

join:2008-07-15
Queen Anne, MD
kudos:1

Re: No basis

1. Post an image of your speed test.

2. Specify about the "hidden fees"

3. Did you know about the caps prior to signing up?

Review by zaby1337 See Profile

  • Location: Anchorage,Anchorage,AK
  • Cost: $103 per month
  • Install: about 1 days
Good "usually good performance, reliability, uptime"
Bad "pricing scheme/scam, SMALL download caps, usage meter lags by 3 days"
Overall "Alaska's only game in town for the most part, monopolists, but great performance"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:

Have used this company for over a decade off and on, mostly on. Have had all sorts of internet plans with them, slow and fast. GCI is Alaska's only game in town basically; their competition is sort of null except for ACS dsl 10mb service which has unlimited DL caps, but ya, it's dsl, and it also performs horribly in my specific area of the city...

Performance is top notch, you get what you expect, even more when it comes to the nice burst speeds, tests well most of the time during gaming sessions and things like speedtest dot com. There will be times during mid day where the speed will drop to roughly 60-50% of rated speed, this is inherent to cable modem networks since the busier it is the slower it will be. The various tools on this site have tested this ISP to be very good, as well as other site's tests.

The most annoying thing about GCI is there pricing scheme/download caps. An example of this is their tiers of service which with their lowest of 10mb up and 1mb down, not bad. The bad #$)#ing part is a DL cap of 10GB, yes I typed it correctly. That tier is $40 stand alone pricing, add in their 'modem access fee' of $9 and other charges, comes out to over $50, really stings when you are constantly reminded of the ridiculous 10GB DL cap.

You can check all this on their site 'gci dot net' and select anchorage as the region.

Thier best tier is the 22mb up/2mb down/200GB DL cap for $120 stand alone price. Again, slap on access fee and whatnot, you're over $130. If you stream a lot or really do anything media related a lot, you'll reach that limit no problem.

This pricing scheme GCI has going is much like choosing between too little and 'too much' as well as paying between a 'little' and a truck load, the end result is GCI is annoying, please someone save us from them, even Comcast would be a great savior at this point. I am being serious.

My current package is at 18/1.5 mbps with a 150GB download cap. This is their second to top package, the rest have ridiculously small download caps which is the only reason why I don't have their lowest package, take note GCI, slimeball 1d10ts. They provide a RCA brand digital broadband modem for $9/month lease for the stand alone packages only.

They take away the access fee if you buy into their whole packages of phone/cable tv/internet, but ya, have fun throwing your money at them like you're in a strip club and you've had a few jack and cokes.

(All this information is updated as of Sept 2012)

I must also mention some important information, the usage meter they have online consistently lags behind about 2-3 days. Compared to Comcast's (lived in lower 48 for short time) usage meter which lags about max 3 hours (Comcast is pretty much instant), GCI's meter is pretty pathetic at best so good luck keeping up with how much you download, actually this is one of the most frustrating aspects of their service.

As I have recently seen some mentions of the GCI usage meter, even though it is ridiculously laggy, it is does keep accurate records. I have confirmed this through my own netgear router's software usage tracking, it has always been accurate every month for a while now ever since I've been monitoring it on my side, this is within 500MB or so at the end of the billing cycle, reasonable, so at least GCI has accuracy right..

member for 3.2 years, 7 visits, last login: 1.8 years ago
updated 2.4 years ago

Comments:
zaby1337

join:2011-12-12
Anchorage, AK

1 edit

reply to access fee comment

replying to previous comment, yes they charge an access for stand alone packages only.

also, in reply to the 'it is good' comment, if you're strictly referring to their performance only, it is good .

[EDIT]
it appears after checking the account of the 'good, it is good' comment, i have found the account was deleted because of violation of terms of use, haha, probably a paid GCI PR rep, honestly wouldn't surprise me.

Review by jikixis See Profile

  • Location: undisclosed location
  • Cost: $100 per month (month by month)
  • Install: about 10 days
Good "speed as advertised when it works"
Bad "intermittent goes out a few times per day, over billing. Low usage cap."
Overall "don't get it unless you have to."

I got GCI because only one available. Had to get the Ultimate package even when I don't own TV nor use the phone.

Bandwidth caps are ridiculous. 15GB for $50? 3Mb down/ 512Kb up.

Now I am with ACS, much happier than GCI.

member for 3.8 years, 0 visits, last login: 3.8 years ago
lodged 3.8 years ago

Comments:






Review by b0rnpagan See Profile

  • Location: Anchorage,Anchorage,AK
  • Cost Contract price not specified. (99 month contract)
Good "Download is livable"
Bad "Usage Cap, Service sucks, Price, Bundles, Lying Pigs, Reduction of Service and Higher Bills"
Overall "If only there was another way,,, sucks being a nerd."
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:

GCI was great, but I question thier usage monitor and argue the point that the head cheese says that Alaskans are not derserving of unlimited internet because they abuse it. .... wow.... on that note stop abusing my wallet. GCI and ACS have been the major isp's in this town and as time goes on the bills get higher while the service and fleecing gets to the point of being rude. They know they have us and that is that. Go to heck GCI!

member for 3.9 years, 2 visits, last login: 3.6 years ago
lodged 3.9 years ago

Comments:

Review by AngryCustmer See Profile

  • Location: Anchorage,Anchorage,AK
  • Cost Contract price not specified.
Good "Fast"
Bad "Sandvine Equipment throttling specific internet protocols and services"
Overall "Terrible Customer Service"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:




member for 4.9 years, 0 visits, last login: 4.9 years ago
updated 4.9 years ago

Comments:






Review by jackal See Profile

  • Location: Anchorage,Anchorage,AK
  • Cost: $50 per month
  • Install: about 1 days
Good "Extremely reliable service, FAR better download speeds than ACS, pseudo-static dynamic IP addresses"
Bad "Slow upload speeds, high price"
Overall "Much better than the competition in Alaska"
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:

I also have the Ultimate Package. I've added some upgrades to the basic package. I've detailed what I'm getting and what I'm paying for below:

$79.99: Ultimate Package

>LiteSpeed cable internet service (64k/32k)--upgraded below

>Digital cable TV (115 channels)

>Analog phone service with 13 features (caller ID, call waiting, etc.) and 150 minutes of out-of-state long distance--upgraded below (to be upgraded to PacketCable-based digital phone service when available)

$49.99: 5mbps/256kbps cable internet service upgrade (includes unlimited data transfer and unlimited dynamic IP addresses)

$10.00: Additional 350 minutes of out-of-state long distance (total of 500 minutes)

$4.99: 1GB email storage

-----

Total monthly price: $144.97, plus taxes--around $160 per month

While it sounds fairly expensive to folks from the Lower 48, it's not bad for the quality and breadth of services I'm receiving. An additional deal is available if you use GCI's GSM cellular service.

I also got 10,000 bonus miles for upgrading to the Ultimate Package. Previously, I had been a GCI subscriber to an older package--it's nice that they offered the bonus miles to both old and new customers.

A couple of comments on the services:

*I have dynamic IPs, but in practice (due to GCI's three-day DHCP lease) these change on average about once per year--long enough for me to register a domain and host my own mail server on my connection. Static IPs are available for $10 per month (a bit steep) but come with business accounts.

*The upload speed has been a bone of contention among a lot of GCI subscribers. 256kbps is slow compared to the 1mbps uploads offered on similar (and cheaper) services down south. Truthfully, though, it's not the end of the world--for now, when I have a large file to send to upload or I want to use Amazon's S3 service to back up my hard drive, I take my laptop over to the university and use their OC3.

*I consistently receive the rated download speed from GCI's local network. When I run the speed test at »speedtest.gci.net at the largest setting (97.66 MB), I get a consistent 650+ KB/sec in Mac OS X's Activity Viewer and a final rating of 5.0+mbps from the speed test tool. GCI does good at making sure the last mile isn't congested. However, downloads and especially speed tests from the Lower 48 can be a bit slow (I haven't gotten more than about 100-150 KB/sec on the standard DSLR speed tests from Megapath or LinkLine or the like)--which is strange, considering GCI's fat pipes to Seattle (I think they're running dual OC-192s, but I'm not sure). Maybe it's the latency of going through 1500 miles of fiber. Downloading multiple files at once or using a program that splits downloads into multiple connections at once usually results in me getting the full 5mbps rating.

A few other tidbits:

*The Ultimate Package plus $99 gets you 10mbps/384kbps with priority technical support and a static IP address.

*It's hard to put an accurate price for just the Internet service, as GCI is so heavy into bundling that they only offer my service plan to people who subscribe to the Ultimate Package. The $49.99 is an upgrade to the basic free cable modem service, so the true monthly cost of *just* the Internet portion is more like $74.98 ($24.99 for LiteSpeed and $49.99 for the speed upgrade), although I'm sure GCI would charge more if it weren't bundled with the other items. In fact, if you're just looking for cable Internet and want to skip TV and phone service, you can spend $99 for 4mbps/384kbps (the highest stand-alone service offered)--so packaging things together really gets you an, er, good deal (well, comparatively). Regardless, I chose to put $49.99 in the Monthly Cost field above, as most people getting Internet in Alaska are going to go with a bundle, whether it's from ACS or GCI.

--

Update 10/30/07

I took an out-of-town job in the summer of 2006 and then spent the winter traveling, so while I was away, I downgraded my Internet connection to the free one included with my Ultimate Package (320k/128k--just fast enough to keep my email server usable). When I returned, I opted to upgrade to the 3m/256k plan for $10 cheaper than the 5m/256k plan. $10 per month isn't much, but I've found that 3mbps is more than fine for most of my usage (though I wouldn't go much slower).

However, there have been some rumors around DSLR that GCI is going to be upgrading their systems/offering a new tier with 15mpbs down and 3mbps up. (Perhaps their old analog cable platform is gone and those frequencies are available now or something.) There has been no official word from GCI on this, nor has there been any pricing information, but if it's available for the same price as their current top-of-the-line plan (10m/384k for the Ultimate Package plus $99), I'll be the first in line to upgrade (mostly for the upload; until more high-quality media offerings, such as good, HD streaming media or HD movie rentals/purchases, are widely available online, I doubt I'll find the extra download to be useful, though it would be fun). If it's much more than than an extra $99 on top of the Ultimate Package, I don't think I could justify the upgrade. We'll see what GCI comes out with.

I've now had the digital phone service (mentioned in the comment attached to this review) for almost exactly one year, and quality has been to POTS standards or better. I think it might have gone down for a short time once, but it was back up and running in hours (or less--I can't remember), and it's worked when the cable modem platform has gone down (though my cable modem service has only gone down two or three times in the year, at least that I've been aware of).

Oh, and I just noticed that at the beginning of October, I got 500 Alaska Airlines miles as an anniversary bonus from GCI. Can't complain about that!

Still happy with GCI and still [probably too] happy to fork over a large chunk of change every month...ah, the digital lifestyle...

--

Update 11/21/07

I just got home and tried to use the phone and found that there was no dialtone. I played with a couple of the other extensions in the house before I finally looked at the EMTA and saw that half of the lights were unlit and one of the lights that doesn't normally blink was blinking. I opened up my laptop to look for the support number from the website (to call from my cell, since I obviously couldn't dial 611 from the landline). I pulled up the number and just as I was about to call it, I thought I'd test the landline again. Sure enough, I got a dialtone.

Supposedly, the digital phone service is continuously monitored by the GCI NOC, which enables them to begin repairs immediately rather than waiting for the customer to call and complain. Worked in my case: I don't know how long it had been down before I found out, but it was fixed within 10 minutes of me discovering it. Certainly better than the two days my old copper landline was down before ACS finally got around to coming out to fix it!

I do find it interesting that the cable modem platform remained up while the voice platform was down, so I'm guessing it wasn't something physical with the cable itself (e.g. a backhoe ripping it out of the ground, etc.). I will admit that my faith in its 100% reliability is a tad bit shaken, but I'm not too concerned, since I have my cell as a backup (and Cellular One recently improved the cell signal in my area, so my cell is [mostly] usable at home, now).

--

Update 12/21/2009

GCI's been good to me, if still sucking down too much of my paycheck ($199.46 each month, give or take a few pennies).

I'm not entirely sure of the exact timeline, but a few of things have happened since I last updated this review. The upload speeds were increased, a couple of the speed tiers were moved around, and the download speeds were increased.

First, the best news: the upload speeds. GCI upped the upstream on the lower-middle two tiers (3mbps and 5mbps) from 256kbps to 512kbps. The top-tier product (10mbps for $99/mo), received an upgrade to full 1mbps upstream capacity. It's still not what many of you guys down south have, but it's no longer abysmal.

Second, I re-upgraded to the 5mbps plan for $10 per month (during my last review, I mentioned I had downgraded from the 5mbps/256kbps plan to the 3mbps/256kbps plan). However, this is now 6mbps! GCI reorganized their speed tiers, and the 3mbps and 5mbps plans jumped to 4mbps and 6mbps, respectively.

And then finally, GCI recently (within the last six months or so) revamped their top three speed tiers. One day, I went to download something and noticed I was downloading at a full 1MBps (mega[i]byte[/i] per second). Sure enough, GCI had--for free!--upgraded my Internet connection to 8mbps/512kbps. My friend who had the 10mbps/1mbps plan (their top tier) found himself now getting 12mbps/1mbps. (It appears the 7mbps/768kbps tier got bumped to 10mbps/768kbps.)

And GCI still hasn't oversold the last mile. Doing speedtests from the local GCI-run speedtest server, I consistently get my rated speed. I just did the 9.77MB download speedtest from »speedtest.gci.com, and I got 7.97mbps. It looks like they're doing fine on their backbone, too--I just did the short run test (20MB) to Seattle from »speedtest.sea.acsalaska.net/spee ··· test-3.0 (their primary competitor) and got 7007kbps/472kbps (I actually saw a full 1.0MBps in Activity Monitor for the majority of the download; it dropped briefly at the end, lowering the average). Perhaps my previous slow results from out-of-state speedtest servers were due to some peering/routing problems they've fixed (they haven't actually laid any more cable)--I just tried the Link/Line speedtest in LAX and got 7336kbps/472kbps.

All in all, I'm quite happy with my Internet connection!

On the phone side, my digital PacketCable phone service has been virtually 100% reliable. Since my last update two years ago, I think it may have failed to provide me with a dialtone once, and it gave me one as soon as I hung up the phone and picked it back up again. The line quality has been stellar--while I wish we could get wideband telephony going in the U.S., the clarity and call quality on my home line is as good as the current 8KHz POTS service is ever going to get. There is never any jitter, delay, echo, dropped calls, stutter, line interference, hiss, or anything, and the audio is very clear.

When calling into GCI several months ago to ask a question about billing, the CSR suggested I change to their new unlimited out-of-state long-distance package. Best of all, it was either the same cost as or a few dollars cheaper than (I can't remember) the 1,000-out-of-state-minute package I had previously had! I grilled the CSR to make sure there were no potential catches or downsides, and there weren't. I guess my only complaint is that they didn't automatically switch me! (Granted, I never use more than 1,000 minutes of out-of-state long-distance, since I actually rarely even call from my home phone, but it's nice to have that option. I could save $10 per month and get something like 200 or 400 minutes, but it's worth $10 to never have to worry about overage fees. (In-state long distance is, IIRC, 14 cents per minute--it's that way with all packages except that I believe there's a special one designed for people who primarily call in-state. I very rarely do, and if I need to, I just use my cell.)

One note: a friend of mine had an issue with GCI's billing department--they messed up his Auto-Pay feature when he moved his service to his new house. The first he heard of it it was three months after the move when they called him threatening to cut off his service and send him to a collections agency. He was flabberghasted! He quickly called them back and made a payment to bring his account current and re-set his Auto-Pay to work properly, but the attitude he received from them was, to say the least, less than cordial. (GCI claims they mailed him notices of his delinquency prior to calling him, but really, who bothers to read snail mail these days?) Fortunately, he got the situation resolved by contacting an email address that used to circulate around the old (now-closed) GCI technical assistance forums, which apparently goes straight to the senior executives, but the attitude he received even there was one of "Well, you're still wrong, and we're not admitting any fault, but just because you asked, here's a token amount of compensation." So, apparently my positive experience with GCI's customer support isn't quite universal. Still, I'd have to rate them highly as I've never personally had any problems with either their customer support (billing inquiries) or technical support (in the rare instance I do need to call, I get someone who's pretty competent and gets the problem solved quickly).

So, in all, I'm very pleased with GCI's services and customer service. It's not the greatest value, but the alternative is to go with the local DSL company, which maxes out at 3mbps, or AT&T Alascom's WiMax service, whose highest tier is 2mbps (though it is 2mbps symmetrical, I believe). If those guys could up their speed tiers to compete, maybe they'd have a fighting chance for my business. If you can live with slower Internet, you can probably save money with The Other Guys (as GCI refers to them in their commercials), but for true geeks like me and my circle of friends, GCI is really the only option--and their prices reflect that.

But for now, I'm more or less happily plunking down $200 per month and not complaining (too much, at least!).

member for 11.1 years, 450 visits, last login: 15 days ago
updated 5.2 years ago

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Review by kalanic00 See Profile

  • Location: Eagle River,Anchorage,AK
  • Cost: $29 per month
Good "Easy Self-install, instant provisioning, in-store face-to-face ordering"
Bad "Long hold times for tech/cust support, monthly caps with no bundle, over-priced in relation to comparable markets elsewhere."
Overall "Better value over local telco."
Pre Sales information:
Install Co-ordination:
Connection Reliability:
Tech Support:
Services:
Value for money:

My Other Reviews

·Verizon Broadban..
Being a telecom guy, I'm biased about using cable. But the value, compared to the other services available in the area, is better. The face-to-face ordering in the GCI store is wonderful and something companies down in the "lower-48" can learn from. There were no upfront costs, and equipment was given without a deposit.

Once I got home, I was up and running in minutes.

There seems to be times where I have to click the re-fresh button, or re-submit a form to kick the internet back on...almost like it freezes for a moment.

Over-all, a wonderful and seamless set-up, but not quite used to 2m/548k for $29.99 (soon to be $49.99) - seems like price gouging, being that there is no competition up here at all.

***Update

I forgot to mention ISPs in Alaska have monthly allowance caps on usage! How far behind the rest of the U.S. is this state?

I turned in my modem, and cancelled the service because I was charged for overage - I surpassed my 10Gig monthly cap. I was charged $0.005 per Meg.

I tested the meter they provide on GCI.net by physically unplugging the modem from power from 7pm 9/13 to 7pm 9/15. However, once they ever so slow meter caught up about a week later, it indicated 500+ Meg of usage for 9/14. How can this be?

I called customer support once I got my bill to dispute the accuracy of the method they use to track usage, and I got the same thing from everyone, "Your wireless router opens your connection, and if it isn't secure, someone else could be using it." Or, "Even though you unplugged the modem, your router is still on, and that explains the additional usage." Did they not hear what I was saying to them? Again, the modulator/demodulator (modem) was unplugged from power!! I was so surprised by the lack of comprehension from everyone I spoke to, I just closed the account.

After over an hour on hold, I was given a "courtesy" credit, but they insisted the additional usage was valid. What idiots!

Bottom line, if you don't get a bundle, be very very weary on extra usage charges. Chances are the usage is inaccurate.

member for 8.6 years, 764 visits, last login: 1 days ago
updated 5.4 years ago

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Review by andyd See Profile

  • Location: Anchorage,Anchorage,AK
  • Cost: $114 per month
Good "only effective coverage of Anchorage"
Bad "over charge, hidden fees, POOR customer service"
Overall "the grab you by the balls and squeeze if you try to make a fuss"

I've had GCI off and on since I was about 16 and my parents first got internet. I'm now 22 and I have not seen a noticeable change in the manner in which they treat their customers, the service the provide, or the amount of BS they spew.

For about a year and a half I was using MTA's DSL service at my apartment on Spenard and I had unlimited internet access at about 1Mbp/s, which was not good but it only cost 83$ a month and splitting that 3 ways worked out nicely. Unfortunately when I moved to the west side of town MTA could no longer provide the same service and I had to switch to GCI.

When I originally switched I read the online site that boasted "69.99 a month for unlimited internet" but that actually meant 69.99+99.99 for the Cable tv, phone line, and other unnecessary features. I ended up going for the only "internet only" package available that came with a bandwidth cap at 20gb's. I work with large raw image files that I must transfer a lot of data. Luckily they had a deal going on for the 4Mbp/s 30gb cap. I setup an installation date for 8/05. They had to reschedule after showing up and not finding the cable. It was a new apartment and I ended up finding it under the couch coming out of the carpet, not out of the wall. I found the cable WHILE THE TECH WAS IN THE HOUSE, but he still canceled the order. Finally they came back on 08/15 and installed.

internet worked fine and bill came for 09/12. On the bill they attached SO MANY EXTRA CHARGES. 10$ access fee for 08/05-08/20 + 19.99 PRORATE for 08/15-08/20 + 69.99 internet charge + 15$ access fee for 08/21-09/12.

I called GCI to find out why they were charging me so much for the 4.5 days that I had the internet before the new cycle and waited 20 minutes before talking to someone despite the fact that I had called 2 minutes after opening. The girl said "well that's just how we setup billing" when I asked her to explain she hung up on me.

WTF?!

Angered I called back, and of course was put on hold for another 20 minutes, before getting the same girl, I asked to speak to a manager and I waited 25 more minutes before getting the "lead" who agreed to remove the overage charges I had accrued. I didn't realize I had accrued them, but apparently the 30gb bandwidth cap extended from 08/05-09/12 even though that was technically 2 billing cycles. I know what you're thinking "don't use so much bandwidth" but I don't see why I should be charged for 2 billing cycles but only recieve the service of one.

Regardless the "lead" said she would take off the charges.

this was 09/10, I ended up having to pay the full 115$ and the overage charge, but they said I would be reimbursed next cycle. It is 09/18 and I have not recieved the new billing cycle, and I'm apparently STILL accruing internet bandwidth usage for the last 2 cycles.

I HATE THIS SERVICE

but because we live in alaska everything EVERYTHING about GCI's service has to be jacked up.

I think if you own all the cable lines coming in and out of the state you should have a little control over pricing. Not to mention everyone I know uses GCI, which only feeds their greedy coffers even more and makes them think people love their service even more.

HORRIBLE HORRIBLE HORRIBLE service, if Alaska ever gets another cable company that can match their speed and availability and offer a modicum of better customer service GCI will have a rush of users leaving them.

But the likelihood of that is slim to none

member for 5.4 years, 0 visits, last login: 5.4 years ago
lodged 5.4 years ago

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