A major cable break in Anchorage caused a widespread, hourslong outage for GCI customers across Alaska on Thursday.
GCI's wireless, internet and TV services were "significantly impacted in several communities around the state" starting around 11:30 a.m, the company said in a statement Thursday afternoon. The impact varied depending on customers' location and type of service.
By 5:30 p.m., some services had started to come back online, according to GCI spokesman David Morris.
The outage was caused by a utility contractor cutting through a large fiber-optic cable under Tudor Road at C Street in Anchorage, Morris said via email early Thursday afternoon.
Contractor Hot Wire Electric was doing work in the area when it hit the cable, president Chris Dillon confirmed.
GCI was still working to assess the damage Thursday afternoon and didn't have an estimated time for a fix, but crews working at the site (including workers brought in from the Mat-Su) said it would likely take a while.
Hundreds of strands within the cable were cut, and the crew was working to temporarily install cables overhead across Tudor Road.
"We'll probably be here all night," said Shane Higgins, an outside plant maintenance tech with GCI.
"I've never seen anything this big before, this is coming out of one of their main hubs," said Mariah Luze with Big G, who was helping with the repair.
"We want our customers to know that GCI crews are dedicated to restoring all services as quickly as possible," Morris said. "We are still working to understand the magnitude of affected services from this break and will continue to update our customers to let them know the status of the repairs."
"We realize how important this is," Dillon said, adding that Hot Wire will have its own investigation into what happened.
Traffic was slowed along Tudor as crews put out cones to narrow the road and workers directed cars into a stop-and-go traffic pattern.
Michael LaFramboise, a GCI project manager at the site Thursday, said that the impact of the damage is "very major" because it's near a place where a large amount of GCI's fibers join together. He said the work to splice the damaged strands back together would go well into the night. Morris said more than 550 fiber optic strands were damaged.
Morris said that at this point there is no way of even guessing how much the fix might cost.?
Readers from Anchorage, Juneau, Wasilla, Sitka, Petersburg and Kenai said via emails that various aspects of their GCI service were affected.
"We just spoke with a GCI rep and he told us that there is a statewide outage and he has no idea when it will be fixed," Leah Watts of Kenai wrote Thursday afternoon.
Customers can check for the latest updates on the GCI Facebook page.