Business briefs

Posted: Thursday, July 05, 2001

GCI plans high-speed Internet service

General Communications Inc. plans a $15 million project to open high-speed Internet service by 2004 in all of the 152 communities it now serves in Alaska.

By the end of 2002, GCI expects to offer cable modem service to 12 regional centers, including Homer, Kenai, Seward and Soldotna. GCI said 48 communities will receive high-speed DSL or wireless Internet service.

In 2003, GCI plans to expand high-speed Internet service to 42 more communities. It will add service to another 50 communities in 2004.

Internet speeds should range from 256 kilobytes to more than 1.5 megabytes per second, depending on the technology installed in each community.

Last January, the Denali Commission, a federal-state partnership established to provide critical utilities, infrastructure and economic support throughout Alaska, reported that 164 Alaska communities had no local dial-up Internet service. GCI said its new high-speed service will reach 112 of those, helping to bridge the "digital divide" between rural and urban Alaska.

ACS Wireless opens new teleconferencing service

ACS Wireless has announced a new TeamConnect program that lets a user talk to a team of people all at once or just to team members who matter most, whether they are on wireless or land-line phones. With the group-call feature, a user can conference up to 15 team members by dialing one seven-digit pilot number. The sequential call feature calls one team member at a time in the order the user chooses, then sets up a one-to-one call between the user and the first team member to answer. For information, call Julie Plooy at 563-8063.

Soldotna chamber speakers announced

July speakers at the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce are Betsy Arbelovsky, director of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Economic Development District, on Tuesday; Joe Gallagher, public outreach coordinator for the Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Committee, on July 17; John Czarnezki, resource planner for the Kenai River Center, on July 24; and Norm Story, of Homer Electric Association, on July 31.

Chamber luncheons are Tuesdays at noon at Riverside House.

Unemployment falls in Kenai borough

Unemployment in the Kenai Peninsula Borough totaled 8 percent in May, down from 10.1 percent in April and from 9.5 percent in May last year. Total wage and salary jobs were 21,847, up from 21,059 in April and from 21,832 in May last year, according to the Alaska Department of Labor.

Statewide unemployment was 5.6 percent in May, down from 6.1 percent in April and from 6.8 percent in May last year.

Some regions fared better than others. Significant declines in unemployment were recorded in areas affected by tourism, such as the Denali and Haines boroughs and the Valdez-Cordova and Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan census areas. However, the end of winter oil drilling and construction contributed to increased unemployment in northern Alaska, and southwest Alaska lost jobs due to the winding down of winter fisheries.

Phillips secures funding for Venezuelan project

Phillips Petroleum Co. and its co-venturers in the Hamaca project have secured $1.1 billion in debt financing for their extra-heavy crude oil project in Venezuela's Orinoco Oil Belt. When fully operational, the Hamaca project will produce 190,000 barrels per day of extra heavy 8.6-degree API crude. The crude will be upgraded into 180,000 barrels per day of 26-degree API crude for sale in international markets.

Phillips expands Texas refinery

A 170-foot crude oil fractionation tower recently raised on the Texas Panhandle marks the halfway point of a major expansion to Phillips Petroleum Co.'s Borger, Texas, refinery. When the expansion is completed in early 2002, the refinery will be able to process 20,000 more barrels of crude oil per day. The project also will increase the refinery's production of low-sulfur diesel fuel by approximately 500,000 gallons per day.

The Borger refinery is one of Phillips' largest, now processing 130,000 barrels of crude oil per day and producing 81,000 barrels of gasoline daily.

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