Tribal Telecom Addresses Need For Internet Connectivity
The FCC has just issued a March 30 application deadline for internet service providers, in a $2 billion auction, to expand wire line and wireless broadband in unserved rural areas across the country, but it does not include rural tribal lands.
The FCC says more than 68 percent of Americans living on tribal lands in rural areas lack access to fixed broadband with upgraded speeds.
The National Tribal Telecom Association is working to address that by advocating for development of tribally-owned telecom companies. Nine tribes are members. Six are in Arizona. Godfrey Enjady is president. He says the goal is for tribes to have broadband independence by owning their own communications lines on reservations.
“Unfortunately, in [order] to provide these services, it costs money, so there has to be some kind of monetary development for tribes to be able to go down that road. What is it going to cost us? What it’s going to be able to develop — wireless, wireline, fiber. We have fiber access for schools here, on the reservation. The biggest thing is moving that to maybe the buses. We can add wifi systems to where they are doing their homework on the way home.”
Enjady said of the approximately 570 tribes nationwide, only nine carry their own telecommunications network now.