GCI to recieve $78 million for new healthcare program

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Local wireless service provider GCI will be receiving $78 million from the Federal Communications Wireline Competition Bureau. GCI participates in the FCC's Rural Healthcare Program, which allows rural health care providers to afford the connectivity they need, without paying more than their urban counterparts.

Recently the FCC discovered two non-Alaska carriers had been falsifying information to inflate their sales and therefore receiving more money from the program. This discovery prompted the FCC to take extra steps to ensure all carriers follow the program rules.

GCI was among the companies asked to verify their information and were able to receive the funding, which came in 26 percent under the $105 million they originally sought. Senior Director of Corporate Communications for GCI Heather Handyside says being able to provide this service is critical.

"Especially in Alaska, people would have to travel vast distances to see a specialist and there are some medical conditions where you need to see a doctor weekly or monthly and in some of the more rural areas, these specialists are not available. And so instead of having folks travel with their families or when they are ill, health care clinics can use video conferencing to connect patient's rural providers with specialists and doctors in health communities," she said.