Alaska News

Alaska’s widespread GCI outage was caused by a failed sprinkler system, company says

A widespread GCI outage that prevented customers from calling 911 and disrupted phone and internet service throughout Alaska on Sunday was caused by a failed sprinkler system that damaged crucial equipment, a company official said Monday.

The outage started around 10 a.m. and impacted services for rural and urban customers, the company said. Wireless voice, data, text and internet were impacted, depending on the location.

GCI had restored some services by 4:15 p.m. Sunday, but on Monday afternoon spokeswoman Heather Handyside said the company was still working to bring some business customers back online. She did not provide an estimate for how long it would take for service to be fully restored to remaining customers.

The outage was caused by water damage from a failed sprinkler system in an office space above one of the company’s equipment rooms in Anchorage, Handyside said in an email Monday. GCI does not own or occupy the office where the leak originated from, she said.

Additional information about the cause of the leak and specifically where it occurred was not immediately available Monday.

The outage shut down emergency calls to 911 from GCI customers in several communities across the state, including Anchorage, Palmer and Wasilla.

Anchorage police notified the public about the outage Sunday and advised them to call alternative numbers. Police said on Monday at 8 a.m. that services were again fully operational.


It wasn’t clear how significantly the outage disrupted 911 calls, police officials said.

“If a person is unable to contact emergency services with the cell phone they have with them, then they have to find an alternate method of contacting dispatch which could include asking someone else to make the call for them,” APD spokeswoman Renee Oistad in an email. “We have no way of knowing if that happened to a citizen within our service area, and if so, to how many.”

Handyside said she did not know how many customers were impacted by the outage and could not supply a specific list of communities affected. Disruptions were reported across the state, including in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Eagle River, Kodiak, Seward, Wasilla, Kotzebue, Kaktovik, Buckland, Noatak and Selawik.

Services were largely restored by Monday, but Handyside said “this was one of the more widespread outages that we’ve had in recent years.”

Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news and public safety. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at