GCI techs train to safely scale Alaska’s most-remote towers

by GCI Staff

Rural Operations team employs nearly 50 rural-based tower climbers to maintain GCI’s statewide network.

Strapped into a full set of safety gear, from helmets to harnesses, each GCI tower climber goes through extensive training every year to ensure they can safely scale some of the most remote telecommunications towers in North America.

While the environment can prove challenging at the top of a mountain, these specialized training sessions are done on an indoor tower a few dozen feet off the ground, so the technicians can focus solely on the skills and techniques they learn in the classroom.

For much of the year, GCI techs contend with sub-zero temperatures, limited daylight, a wide variety of travel methods and a number of other obstacles that would halt someone less hardy in their tracks.

Those variables, coupled with the prospect of climbing towers that can reach more than 300 feet in the air, demand GCI crews tackle each challenge with a great deal of practice and deliberate planning prior to getting onto the ladder.

“Our technicians climb each tower in GCI’s network at least once every year to replace lights and perform necessary maintenance, repairs or upgrades,” said Senior Director of GCI Facilities & Network Operations JD Schultz. “With much of this work being done far above the ground in places with no ready access to rescue crews or other emergency responders, this kind of training is critical to ensure our employees can complete the work and return home safely each night.”

GCI’s Rural Operations group employs nearly 50 tower climbers who are based in rural communities across Alaska.

“Our crews are stationed strategically, so they can respond as quickly as possible to any issue that impacts GCI’s network,” said Schultz. “And having our folks on the ground throughout the state not only benefits GCI, but also provides job opportunities in many of the rural communities GCI serves.”

In total, the ROPS team employs more than 200 technicians and site agents who live in nearly each of the more than 200 communities GCI serves.

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