Planned GCI cellular service outage expected to disrupt emergency calls & response in Womens Bay

UPDATED: Feb. 14, 2024

Starting tomorrow GCI cell phone users in Womens Bay, just outside Kodiak city limits, will temporarily be without coverage while a local cell tower is upgraded.

A text message from the company sent out over the weekend said that services including calls, text messages and mobile data will be unavailable through Thursday night at 6 p.m. That includes emergency calls to 911.

This text message was sent to GCI cell phone customers in Kodiak describing the upcoming tower work scheduled to be done in Womens Bay. (GCI)

Jenifer Nelson is the Director of Rural Affairs for GCI. She said on Monday that the scheduled outage had been pushed back a day and will only affect customers in range of one specific tower.

“Our technicians will be operating equipment on our cellular tower in the Womens Bay area, so it will only be affecting that area,” Nelson explained. “That service area that the tower serves.”

Nelson said weather delayed GCI technicians, but they’ll arrive in Kodiak to start the tower work tomorrow, Feb. 14. They were originally scheduled to disrupt service today, Feb. 13. The outage could potentially last from Wednesday morning until Friday, although Nelson expects service will be restored before then.

This outage could impact emergency response in Womens Bay for residents who only have a cell phone and no other communication device.
Womens Bay Service Area Fire Chief David Conrad told KMXT, “as the area responder, we have had little communication from GCI prior to this scheduled outage. As a communications company, GCI should really work on its communication,” he said.

But, Nelson said GCI landline and internet connections will still be available during the outage for Womens Bay residents.

“The outage will only be impacting wireless service, including calls, text messages and mobile data. Internet will still be online and customers will still be able to utilize voice over Wi-Fi on their phones as well, if you have an internet connection,” she said.

Mobile service from other providers will also still be available along the Chiniak Highway heading south from Kodiak city, but accounting for the usual dropout spots.
GCI does not offer cellular coverage south of Womens Bay in the community of Chiniak or further down the Pasagshak Road.

Nelson says the lone GCI tower in Womens Bay is one of several around the island that are part of the upgrade from two frequency bands to five, which will increase capacity but still allow customers to use LTE.

GCI will send a follow up message to its mobile customers in Kodiak when the Womens Bay tower work is completed and service is restored.

*Editor’s note: The featured image on this story does not show the GCI tower in Womens Bay, but rather a different mobile service tower located in a different part of the state.

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