What makes it interesting?
TERRA is comprised of three phases: Southwest, Northwest, and Yukon. TERRA Northwest alone will span 450 miles with 14 communication towers, 22 modules, and 22 fuel tanks to connect Nome, Unalakleet, and Kotzebue to the 40-tower Southwest network. The Kotzebue network is the first public terrestrial network north of the Arctic Circle. Aside from the dangers involved in working “off the grid,” Alaska’s unpredictable weather causes the most safety hazards of this gigantic project.
How HCSS Software assisted with this project
The GCI TERRA project is comprised of three regional phases, each of which is further broken out into subsequent phases. For the most part, each phase consists of the same activities, such as foundation installation and tower erection. STG saved time and effort by developing activities and customizing crews in HeavyBid and duplicating them in different phases of work. They can simply copy the previous phases and labor rates, leaving only the quantities to update. Before HeavyBid, STG used the small business go-to Excel for estimating. Unlike HeavyBid, Excel doesn’t provide sophisticated reports, advanced breakdowns for equipment and labor, or customizable markup functions.
STG estimator Shane Oyster: “With HeavyBid, there’s no need to waste time creating wacky, error-prone formulas. Switching from Excel to HeavyBid made estimating a large, multi-phase project like ours at least 50 percent faster. No department-of-one should be without HeavyBid.” Ultimately, HeavyBid made STG more scalable, more competitive, and more profitable.
STG Incorporated (STG) thinks the most interesting projects are the ones that go big. Alaska-sized big. On-top-of-mountains big. Ginormous-air-crane big. Make ’em-go-“woah” big.
At more than twice the size of Texas, Alaska is home to some of the most challenging geography in North America. Today, thanks to the internet and mobile technology, where you live no longer determines how you live. However, access to high-speed communication has been elusive for many living in rural Alaska.
Over the past four years, the GCI TERRA project has transformed the telecommunications landscape for Western and Arctic Alaska. GCI is Alaska’s largest internet services provider. TERRA is GCI’s vision to build a hybrid terrestrial fiber-optic and microwave network to serve rural Alaskans in 72 communities with more reliable phone and high-speed internet.
To execute a complex, multi-year contract installing communication towers and support infrastructure in rural Alaska, GCI contracted STG. TERRA is comprised of three phases: Southwest, Northwest, and Yukon. TERRA Northwest alone spans some 450 miles with 14 communication towers, 22 modules, and 22 fuel tanks to connect Nome, Unalakleet, and Kotzebue through the 40-tower TERRA Southwest network.
In December, GCI announced the launch of its TERRA service in Kotzebue, marking it as the first public terrestrial network north of the Arctic Circle. The build-out required seven logistics companies, six designers and engineers, five commuter airlines, two direct subcontractors, one general contractor, one heavy lift helicopter company, and many more suppliers and vendors across Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. There are no roads in and out of these communities, so barges, planes, cranes, and helicopters outnumber conventional construction trucks.
The dangers of such a project are obvious: heavy machinery, hazardous materials, and the everyday challenges of “working off the grid.” But perhaps the most treacherous safety hazard of all is the one you have no control over — weather. From winter’s blistering frostbite to summer’s dizzying heat stroke and all of the foggy, rainy, no-fly days in between, Alaska’s weather is unpredictable and unforgiving. Inclement weather is the only obstacle for which there is no back-up plan but to wait.
What are the Benefits of GCI TERRA? Increasing terrestrial broadband strengthens bandwidth, lowers latency, and increases reliability for rural and remote Alaskans in three significant ways: education, healthcare, and public safety. Teachers can take students on virtual field trips to the world’s best museums and connect with other cultures. Educators and administrators can attend regional meetings and training opportunities without leaving their villages. Village healthcare providers can connect with urban doctors and specialists using telemedicine carts for patient reviews and diagnoses. Village residents receive better patient care for chronic and emergency treatment while reducing expensive travel costs. First responders can locate distressed or injured Alaskans faster due to greater cell coverage outside of villages, and the range of search and rescue public safety radios expands to communicate with subsistence hunters and travelers.