GCI will shut down its longtime email service

Alaska telecommunications company GCI will end its longtime email service next year, a move that will affect many customers who must transition to new email providers.

Spokespeople with GCI, Alaska’s largest telecommunications company, said the service will end sometime in mid-2024. At that point, customers will no longer be able to access or use their account, according to a draft fact page posted online.

“We will provide our customers formal notice at least six months in advance of email deactivation deadline,” GCI spokeswoman Heather Handyside said in an email on Friday. “Our intent is to provide customers with as much time as possible to successfully transfer their data and get settled on a new platform.”

The draft fact page was prematurely posted online, according to Handyside, which created confusion and prompted speculation among GCI customers who hadn’t been notified of the change. The company plans to communicate directly with customers about the plans in the next two weeks, Handyside said.

GCI has provided the email service since the mid-1990s, she said. About 40,000 accounts use the domain. Over the years, many users have moved to other email providers with more services, such as Gmail, that are operated by major tech companies, she said.

“When other more sophisticated platforms launched more than a decade ago, demand for email accounts began tapering off,” Handyside said. “We stopped offering accounts eight years ago recognizing that our customers were transitioning to platforms with superior capabilities. Because providing email service has become more complex and more expensive, we’ve decided to sunset the service.”

Joe Cook, a U.S. Navy veteran from Wasilla, said he became a GCI customer in the 1990s in part because of the free email service.


“It’s a terrible choice” by GCI because the cancellation will remove one of the benefits of having the company as an internet provider, he said.

“This really saddens me they’re getting rid of it,” he said.

Cook said he rebuilds and sells computers online at platforms like Facebook Marketplace and eBay. But the accounts for those platforms are tied to his account.

“It’s going to take some work to change everything” to his Gmail account, he said.

Handyside said that because of the complexity and cost of maintaining the email program, GCI will likely implement a fee later this year for customers who continue to use the email service. She said the fee will be $4.99 monthly. Customers who pay it will still see the email service end in mid-2024.

[GCI agrees to pay $40 million in settlement with federal government]

Marilyn Leland, retired former executive director of the Alaska Power Association, said she has primarily used for her emails for decades. She said she never saw an email from GCI about the change, but learned about it recently from another GCI customer on Facebook.

“My biggest issue with GCI at this point is they are having a horrible job of letting customers know,” she said. “This really is a big deal, because all the things I do — banking, medical, Social Security — it’s all tied to that email address.”

Handyside said GCI customers “will receive emails about the change, and we’ll have online resources available once we have all details finalized.”

The draft fact page about the change provides tips for the transition, including how to back up old emails and transfer contacts.

Leland said she is considering switching everything to Gmail. She’s worried about losing friends’ email addresses or bills not getting paid during the transition.

“There’s no question there are things that will fall through the cracks,” she said. “The question is just how big they will be.”

GCI, launched in Alaska in 1979, has undergone major changes in recent years. It was sold to Liberty Broadband of Colorado in 2017, upsetting some customers who wanted the ownership to remain local. Among other developments, it has outsourced its call center to the Philippines, affecting dozens of Alaska jobs, and ended its cable TV platform in favor of an internet streaming service.

Alex DeMarban

Alex DeMarban is a longtime Alaska journalist who covers business, the oil and gas industries and general assignments. Reach him at 907-257-4317 or