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Basics

Alaska

Flag of Alaska

The cellular phone system in the northwestern US state of Alaska is quite different from the 48 contiguous states. Hence Alaska is covered separately here, similarly to Puerto Rico on the other side of the US. For basic information about the US cellular or mobile phone system please check our United States main article first.[]

Only three cellular networks operate in Alaska:

  • GCI (including ACS)
  • AT&T
  • Verizon (on 4G/LTE-only)
US big

Flag of the USA

Be prepared that your cell phone will not work everywhere. Data service is good in urban areas, and varies from good to non-existent between towns. Most villages have cell phone coverage on only one network, but not on another, meaning that it’s either an AT&T or a GCI village. Keep in mind that 911 will still work.

T-Mobile doesn't operate its own network natively in the entirety of Alaska. Its postpaid customers can roam on GCI, but none of its prepaid clients have any coverage at all. That's why T-Mobile can't be recommended for Alaska on prepaid here.

Sprint didn't have any of its own coverage in Alaska and likewise used GCI's CDMA network for roaming, even before it was absorbed into T-Mobile.

GCI[]

GCI Logo

GCI, which stands for General Communication Inc, is a telecommunications corporation operating only in Alaska. Based in Anchorage, it provides cable TV service, internet access, fixed line and cellular telephone service on GSM and CDMA. GCI is the dominant cable and broadband provider in Alaska, and has slightly less than half of the wireless market share.

In 2014, GCI agreed to purchase the wireless assets of rival Alaska Communications (ACS) and merged its CDMA network into its own dubbed The Alaska Wireless Network.

In 2017, GCI was sold to media conglomerate Liberty Interactive Corp and changed its name to GCI Liberty in 2018, while its mobile brand continues to operate under the GCI brand and logo.

Frequencies[]

2G/GSM and 3G/UMTS operates on 1900 MHz in urban and 850 MHz in rural areas. Their 4G is on 1700 MHz (B4) and recently spectrum was acquired on 700 MHz (B12). In the US mainland, GCI uses T-Mobile's network for roaming.

Coverage[]

GCI has very wide 3G coverage, including inhabited rural areas. It also has 4G/LTE coverage in some larger cities and towns. Check GCI's coverage map. GCI launched 5G service in Anchorage, AK (dubbed Hometown 5G) in April 2020 but has not released plans to expand 5G outside the Anchorage region just yet.

Availability[]

GCI's prepaid plans are called FastPhone. To get one of its SIM cards, visit its stores (locator) or one of their authorized retailers.

Top-ups can be made by auto-pay linked to a credit card online and enter your 10 digit prepaid phone number or over the phone by calling 444-8100.

Prepaid plans[]

These combo plans valid for 30 days are available (all contains unlimited US voice and texts):

  • $25: 1 GB national data
  • $40: 3 GB national data
  • $55: 6 GB national data
  • $65: 10 GB national data
  • $60: unlimited (depriorization during network congestion) + 4 GB for extended markets + 3 GB hotspot use
  • $70: unlimited (50 GB before subject to depriorization during network congestion) + 12 GB for extended markets + 15 GB hotspot use

All price plans can be lowered by enabling autopay (-$5 for two cheapest plans, -10$ for other ones). Unlimited (and hotspot) data works in selected cities, which are described here. When you use up your extended market data and hotspot data, speed will be capped at 128 kbit/s.

In non-unlimited plans, additional data is $0.01 per 5 KB (which works out at more than $2 per MB). It's better to buy one of these add-ons for extra data:

  • 1 GB for 30 days: $10
  • 2 GB for 60 days: $20
  • 5 GB for 90 days: $30

More info[]

AT&T[]

ATT-logo

In the larger cities and towns, AT&T has excellent coverage on LTE. AT&T has also upgraded some of these cities to 5G. On the long highway stretches between towns they have pretty good coverage, but it’s not always 4G/LTE. AT&T for prepaid operates entirely on its own network of towers. If it doesn’t have a tower, you won’t have service; coverage map (zoom to Alaska)

AT&T in Alaska shares the market mainly with GCI. All prices and plans shown in the United States chapter for AT&T and its resellers apply to Alaska too. So check our AT&T chapter for further details.

Verizon[]

Verizon-0

Verizon started building its own 4G/LTE network in Alaska in 2014. This currently covers the populated areas and when outside its network, you roam on GCI's towers. This gives Verizon customers good coverage on the long highway stretches between towns.

For further details check our section about Verizon in the US.

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