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Internet providers will help Anchorage families get online during the coronavirus emergency

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Anchorage families without internet can now get free access thanks to offers from some of the largest providers in the area.

Alaska Communications is offering free unlimited internet service with no data caps to students and teachers who aren’t currently customers through the rest of the school year, while GCI is offering free entry-level internet to all new customers until May 31.

For existing customers, Alaska Communications is offering 10% off internet service for students and educators; GCI is allowing a free upgrade to the next level of service; and MTA is offering a free upgrade and unlimited data.

The offers come as K-12 and university students across the state transition to distance learning and an increasing number of workers move to telework to avoid person-to-person contact. In Anchorage, the state’s largest city, the mayor on Friday issued a “hunker down” emergency order that requires residents to stay at home as much as possible and avoid non-essential public activity. These measures have been taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, within the community during a global pandemic.

“ASD is grateful to ACS, GCI, and MTA for offering these services to our families,” the Anchorage School District said in a statement on its website.

All three providers said they are committed to keeping service up and running during the national emergency. Both Alaska Communications and GCI have said they will not terminate any service because of a failure to pay, and both are waiving late fees and long distance overage fees related to the pandemic. MTA also won’t disconnect service.

Earlier this week, the Anchorage School District released the results of a telephone survey that found 4% of student homes had no internet. The district is currently in the process of formulating its plan for educating students remotely.

On Friday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy ordered all schools in the state remain closed through the end of the month. Also Friday, Anchorage School District Superintendent Deena Bishop said the district is on track to offer distance learning by the end of the month.

“We are grateful for your patience while we work to develop the student, parent, and staff supports and training necessary to roll out such an ambitious effort,” Bishop said in a statement sent to parents.

Bishop said there are also other distance education opportunities available at the district’s website,

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that Alaska Communications offers one level of service that includes unlimited internet with no data caps, and is offering a 10% discount on existing service — not upgrades — for students and educators who are already Alaska Communications customers.