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Alaska Communications Pounds GCI Cable Over Usage Caps, Overlimit Fees

Alaska Communications has found a marketing angle to combat Alaska’s dominant cable operator — GCI, which has slapped arbitrary usage caps and overlimit fees (up to $30/GB) on its customers. ACS has made cap-free Internet browsing a hallmark of their marketing campaign:

Alaska Communications vs. the Cable Company

Why Alaska Communications Home Internet is the best choice.

No Nasty Surprises on Your Bill

Tired of nasty surprises on your cable company’s Internet bill from the cable company? With Home Internet Service from Alaska Communications, there are no overage charges. Surf, stream, download, watch, and play – all without worry of “extra fees” for going over your bill. With Alaska Communications Home Internet Service, you won’t go over – it’s unlimited!

No Data Limits

Say you hopped online just a bit more this month – surfing, watching your favorite streaming movies, or maybe the kids were trying to win the online tournament of their favorite game while you were posting to your favorite social media site. We don’t think your Internet should be capped or “throttled.” That means, if you get close to your data limit, the cable company will slow down your Internet to limit your connection. With our Home Internet Service, you’ll get to use the Internet the way you want to – at the speeds you deserve!

ACS recognizes the truth for most broadband customers: They loathe usage caps and throttled broadband speeds, overlimit fees and bill shock. Nobody should have to learn what a gigabyte is and be forced to watch a usage gauge before deciding whether or not to use the Internet as they wish. We congratulate ACS for delivering consumers a better choice in broadband and a worry-free Internet experience. We hope this will send a message to GCI  that Internet Overcharging is unacceptable.

Stop the Cap! recommends our Alaskan readers patronize the state’s largest cap-free ISP: ACS.

Currently there are 14 comments on this Article:

  1. Ian L says:

    Here’s the flip side of that though: Alaska Communications is slow, unless you’re getting their symmetric Ethernet package…their fastest package tops out at 10 mbps for over $100, whereas competitor GCI’s lowest tier is 10 Mbps (and GCI offers 22 Mbps in newly upgraded areas).

    The company is also expensive for a given service tier. 320 kbps is $49, 1 Mbps is $69 and $89 buys you either 3 Mbps or 4 Mbps, depending on line conditions. Oh, and you have to buy a landline from Alaska Communications to get their DSL service, which tends to have a pretty sizable bit of first-hop latency…20+ ms to the local router, plus another 30ms to get to the continental US). Then again, GCI probably isn’t much better.

    A cynic would say that Alaska Communications is only offering unlimited because they would rather not upgrade their DSL network to something that can sustain faster burst speeds, so they compete the only way they can: uncapped, expensive packages. Oh, and Alaska Communications and GCI are pooling their wireless resources on the back-end side in the face of upcoming LTE by Verizon Wireless. Apparently the two Alaska-based communications companies aren’t being cut-throat with their competitiveness after all…

    • Ian L says:

      By the way, some of the information that I mentioned in my comment was gathered while I was in the state (primarily in Fairbanks) last week and the week before that. 10 Mbps symmetric ACS Ethernet is fun to use but my bet is that it’s pretty darned expensive.

      • Scott says:

        I’ve been on ACS’s unlimited 10Mbit down/1mbit up service since the day the launched it. They do bundle a phone line with it as part of the ‘package’ and yes, your bill is a premium compared to unlimited lower 48 providers @ $109 not incl. taxes/fees. I also have ACS’s business lines for my company as we terminated our contract with GCI there as well, those can be faster but yes, they cost 2-3x as much, however they do have SLA’s and full support plus Cisco hardware included.

        GCI has always tended to have slightly better latency via their Fiber to Seattle however the delays you saw are normal for any Alaskan internet provider, you’re simply not going to get the 30-50ms round trip as if you were on Sonic.net in California or some other major city.

        As far as speeds go ACS under-promises and over-delivers. My 10Mbit line actually runs 11-12Mbit confirmed via speedtests even during prime time hours.

        Back when I had GCI Service (when it was unlimited, then after when they switched to metered for a awhile) they always over-promised and under-delivered.. my speeds with them were always 60% of what they promised during nearly all hours except late nights/mornings where it’d go up a few more Mbit’s closer to the advertised speed.

        The speeds really don’t matter, ACS providing 10-12mbit is really all you should need, as has been pointed out on Stop the Cap before going 22mbit on a metered ISP just means you’re going to get overage fee’s twice as fast once you blow through your cap. Still, GCI would actually have to provide the speeds they advertise during the evening too, which they don’t.

        My choice in going with ACS was pretty simple.

        1. I vote with my wallet, their service may have a premium price but it is truly Unlimited, never any fee’s or charges to worry about.
        2. GCI’s metered packages have too little bandwidth allowances and too high overage fee’s making their average overage penalty often run between $100-300.. I won’t do a metered package but even if I did it’d have to be 300Gb for their $130/mo bundle – NOT their measly 60Gb bandwidth allowance plus $4/mb overage fee…
        3. ACS’s customer service is top notch, they take care you, zero hassles about how you use their service. The bulk of my interaction with GCI has always been long lines, or calls with their support staff giving a lecture justify their caps and outrageous fees.

        Even if I was so inclined to get Cable again, I’d go with Dish or DirecTV before supporting GCI with their caps. Unless someone is on their top $200+/mo plan I just don’t see how anyone avoids hitting their limit with a large overage fees at least once or twice a year, and I know from experience with co-workers plenty of familys already have including myself when I was with them.

        • Ian L says:

          Thanks for providing a counterpoint to my point. I merely sampled a half-dozen or so connections when I was in the state, and when I was on GCI cable-based service things appeared to work just fine. Then again, I wasn’t aware of what the speeds at a given location were /supposed/ to be.

        • jbodan says:

          Scott, Thank you for all your info.
          It really helps. I have a 200,000 MB plan, “22” Mbit for about $90 per month. This month, Jan 2014, my bill came for $285 because of overage. I went over by 50% of my monthly plan, but still my bill came 200% over. I just signed up for the 30-day free trial with ACS unlimited.

          • gfiber says:

            wow… CRY ME A RIVER are you sad because youre able to physically download over 200gb EVERY SINGLE MONTH? You dont even know how good you have it. use a bandwidth monitor and never complain about internet price again while you are downloading faster than 1mb/s….

  2. Caitlin McDiffett says:

    Corrections to Ian’s post:

    You do not need to purchase a landline with Alaska Communications Home Internet…it is available as a stand-alone product.

    In regards to the speed comparisons: I’ve experienced several instances where I’d purchased 15MB from GCI only to discover I’m getting about 6 or 7MB after running a speed test. ACS delivers the speed purchased in every case that I’ve tested and aims for the best possible customer experience.

  3. Andrew says:

    I’m still waiting for ACS to come out to the Mat-Su Valley. I have very bad internet out by Knik, which
    is 768k.

  4. Thomas Collingwood says:

    Was I not surprised when I got my $650.00 lifeline phone bill from ACS. I had been a never wavering customer with MTU/ASC since the mid 80’s; some dumb thing about loyalty to the telephone company. “Damn it, Janet” retired. Her girl friend called her that too. It was from the Rocky Horror Movie, so she liked it and that’s how I remembered her name. She was even better than Lily Tomlin at resolving issues, not to mention service with preferred customer ‘benefits’. With my $35.00 unlimited portable Clearwire 2MB service and GCI’s flat <$10.00 including tax cell phone service I am content. No one treats me rudely or threatens me when I arrive with only a C note in hand. And of course, you wouldn't dream of adjusting/correcting the bill, unlike at GCI where you almost don't even have to ask. Over the phone, no one would return my call about it, I found a link to write about this and in response was assured that the sales people now are friendly and willing to receive the balance I have not paid after three bad experiences in a row – first the shock of the bill and a $150.00 dollar payment – why would you let a life line bill go to $650.00 and the refusal to explain what as I never went over before. I shut that down instantly. Went in with my new red GCI phone for the next $100.00 payment and was threateningly told my ACS cell was not going to be restored until I paid my bill off. I cancelled it, not you! The next time I went in with $100 payment I was rudely asked what that was for – obviously not enough to pay off the bill and not enough to take the money and offer a thank you so I kept the money and bought weed. I never have to worry about overages now with unlimited cell service and unlimited internet all for under $50.00 a month. Now that's a real Xtreme Bill over-fees.

  5. Tom Tanner says:

    I have switched to ACS because of paying close to $300 dollars one month because everyone in my household at the time streamed music and movies, used services such as Voyage or VoiP on top of surfing the web causing us to go over our cap. That was just too much. Higher speed is great but if it cost so much that you can afford to put food on the table then I’ll take one slower speed and wait. Caps are useless and a poor excuse to gouge customers.

  6. JLBodan says:

    I switched to ACS about 3 months ago. It’s only $89 per month and my family and I watch all the netflix movies, sports, pandora, vevo, etc…… without worrying anymore about going over. It was the best decision I’ve made for a long time. I wished I could have made it earlier or at least before I paid $285 to GCI for one month because I went over my usage just by 20%.

    The speed is slower, but nothing slows down while watching movies or live sport events through my Roku. You cannot notice it that much or most of the time at all.

    We watch ABC, MSNBC, CBS, and other network shows for free through their apps. I watch European and world soccer though a DishWorld subscription ($10/month). We also watch all the 13 local channel (many of them in High Definition) through our air/digital antenna on our roof. So we all get all that we want for under $100 per month.

    I’m still thinking wether I should get the MLB package for just $10 per month, so I can watch all of the baseball games, I mean all the teams and all the games with replay, pause, forward and all the stuff.

    Cable is way too expensive for the very few channel you actually watch. Cable will be a thing of the past in the near future.

  7. gfiber says:

    uuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhh NOONONONONO gci offers cable. yea there’s a cap. WHO CARES ITS 1MB/S DL SPEED!!!!!

    guess how fast my horrible evil lame stupid acs internet goes?

    32kb/s. never more, some times less. “fastest in your area” forget you jerk. acs should be horribly embarrassed. they’re talking about 3g/4g improvements when i have FREAKING DIALUP FOR THE COST OF DSL anywhere else in the country i could gey 10mbps for what i pay!!!!!!

    oh yea its free too haha novel concept, 3000x better service for nothing. acs is horrrrrible i wish they had a cap then at least theyd be straight up about ripping us off FOR YEARS AND YEARS

    i had dialup until 2007 because of acs. then they gave me 256kbsp. thats as good as it gets. oh thanks. 60$ a month???!!

    i cant use youtube at home, but thyre going to make mobile speed faster?! makes no sense! the cell reception suxxxxx acs should be forced to give out wilson signal boosters with purchase. shouldnt be thinking about dumb mobile.data when they havent even reached everyone here with 256kbsp, not that i would wish that on my enemies




  8. gfiber says:

    anchorage jerks having luxury of choosing your speed, comparing against others…. this is alaska. its rural. you cityslick pansys are good, NOW ACS WORK ON THE REST OF THE STATE, YA KNOW THE MAJORITY??? anchorage fairbanks and Juneau are just fine for a WHILE. i would do horrible horrible things for a fraction of your fancy high speed… ITS NOT FAIR I WANNA MOVE TO KC MISSOURI AND LET GOOGLE FIBER TOUCH MY BAD PLACE 🙁

  9. Will Knot Tell says:

    I have been waiting for ACS Internet services (4G cell and Broadband) in Delta Junction for 19 months. I live 4 miles from Delta Junction and apparently it’s no mans land. For broadband their coverage map shows service across the road but not on my side of the road. When I called for service I was told I was 1000 feet from an already overloaded access point. They offered to put me on a waiting list. Well I’ve been waiting! There are 20 homes within that 1000 feet. AT&T has been offering 4G service in Delta for about a year but not ACS.

    I was just told today, so it is a rumor, that ACS has been withholding service in an attempt to get a federal grant to pay for expanding their services. It has a ring of truth sound to me because I was with friends when they were looking at a house and asked the realtor if Internet was available. She said that she had had several customers that could not get DSL after they purchased homes even though the previous owners had it.

    A company that sells ACS cell phone service (so not ACS directly) says they are expanding services this “summer” and to wait before changing carriers. It’s almost the end of July and summer is quickly coming!

    BTW, sent from a free hotspot in town!

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