Alaska’s claims to fame are many and varied. It’s home to rugged natural areas, eight national parks, gorgeous glaciers, the Northern Lights, a booming oil and gas industry, seafood and just over 730,000 people. When it comes to home internet, however, there’s a bit less to celebrate. Alaska comes in dead last in Ookla’s Speedtest.net ranking of internet speeds for the 50 states (and Washington, DC).
Despite the state’s shortcomings, there’s still decent internet in the Last Frontier. GCI is CNET’s pick for the best internet service provider in Alaska, thanks to top speeds of 2.5 gigabits per second and the widest (and still growing) availability of any wired provider in the state. CNET examines customer service, speed, pricing and overall value before recommending the best broadband in your area.
Almost any choice of internet provider in Alaska will come with some compromises, whether in speed, price or reliability. Rural residents often have to choose between satellite, fixed wireless or DSL connections, with satellite as the only viable option for some. While the broadband scene may sound a little bleak, there are reasons for optimism as over $1 billion in federal funding is pouring into the state to improve internet access in underserved communities.
Finally, all prices listed on this page reflect available discounts for setting up paperless billing. If you decide not to go with automatic monthly payments, your price will be higher.
Best internet options in Alaska
Most Alaska homes are covered by cable or DSL services, with GCI and Alaska Communications as notable providers. Satellite internet is a top option for remote locations with no other connections. Starlink’s potential for good top speeds gives it an edge.
Note: The prices, speeds and features detailed in the article text may differ from those listed in the product detail cards, representing providers’ national offerings. Your internet service options — including prices and speeds — depend on your address and may differ from those detailed here.
GCI takes this top spot in a state with few internet options for two big reasons: availability and speed. The FCC National Broadband Map shows GCI services over 70% of Alaska households, making it the most widespread wired ISP in the state. According to GCI’s data, the ISP reaches over 80% of residents. GCI primarily offers fiber-cable hybrid and fiber-to-the-home connections with considerable swings in speed and pricing depending on location. The hybrid network uses a fiber backbone and then runs via cable to the home. GCI also offers wireless internet, with a notable recent expansion in the Bethel area.
Availability: GCI’s coverage area includes cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks, but the ISP also reaches smaller towns like Sitka and Nome. GCI is actively expanding its network of fiber-cable hybrid connections and fiber-to-the-premises services. The ISP recently connected the remote fishing community of Unalaska with 2,500Mbps speeds. This is just one project in a larger effort to connect rural communities in the state.
Plans and pricing: Pricing is variable. In some parts of Bethel, I found plans ranging from $60 a month for 3Mbps (with a 40GB data cap) to $300 for 10Mbps (with a 200GB data cap). In Anchorage, GCI offers plans from $85 for 250Mbps (with a 250GB soft data cap) to $185 for 2,500Mbps with unlimited data. This range is typical for pricing and speeds for GCI’s fiber-cable hybrid network. Your best bet for uncovering pricing for your particular location is to check the website or talk to a GCI rep.
Fees and service details: A modem and Wi-Fi equipment are included. No contract is required. GCI will throttle speeds once you hit your data cap. The unlimited plan also has a caveat: If you top 4 terabytes of usage, it can trigger an account review. Keep that in mind if you’re a heavy internet user in danger of going over that limit. When you sign up for services online, a GCI representative will chat or call to talk over any promotional offers or discounts.
Best DSL availability in Alaska
Anchorage is far and away Alaska’s most populous city, and GCI has the broadest coverage in the metro area. Availability and a top speed of 2,500Mbps earn GCI a second nod in this list of best Alaska ISPs.
Availability: GCI reaches just over 80% of the Anchorage metro area, according to the FCC. That includes Eagle River and Wasilla. Most of that is via the ISP’s cable network.
Plans and pricing: GCI’s basic plans are covered above, but this is a good place to highlight its “red unlimited” option for $185 a month. That comes with download speeds of up to 2,500Mbps and upload speeds of up to 75Mbps. For power users, it’s worth considering. Internet in Alaska is expensive, so this price isn’t as nutty as it might seem to people on the mainland with access to more ISP competition.
Fees and service details: Lower-tier plans, including 250Mbps, 500Mbps and 1,000Mbps, all come with data caps. The “red” plan is (mostly) unlimited, but you may get a notice if GCI thinks you’ve hit an excessive amount of data, north of 4TB in a month.