Check out this article on the work that Navajo Nation is doing to bring wireless broadband to the reservation.  Navajo Nation is not alone – many tribes and partners like GCI and its Rural Development Program led by Bob Walsh in Alaska are taking advantage of the federal funding opportunities for these projects. In fact, there will be $100 million available for tribes in 2015 under the Tribal Mobility Fund.  Applications are due this year.  Economic development on reservations and in rural areas cannot happen without this type of infrastructure.  And more importantly, high quality education cannot happen on the reservation without access to the internet.  In fact, President Obama has made high speed internet a priority and created an initiative to bring it to all schools, including tribal schools, in the next five years.  

Garvey Schubert Barer has been a proud partner with Tribes on these types of projects for many years.  Much more work needs to happen to close the divide. But if we continue to take advantage of funding opportunities available, develop key partnerships, we will close this “digital divide”.

See article below on narrowing the digital divide in the Navajo Nation.

Happy New Year!

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Narrowing the Digital Divide in the Navajo Nation

Posted by Jean Rice on January 08, 2014 at 12:28 PM EST

Ed. Note: This blog is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Spread across the Four Corners region of the American Southwest, the Navajo Nation is home to up to 175,000 members of the Navajo Tribe. Tribal members live scattered across more than 27,000 square miles of land stretching from northeast Arizona to northwest New Mexico to southeast Utah.

It’s a place where many roads have never been paved, many buildings don’t have a formal postal address and thousands of families remain cut off from the electrical grid. At least 60 percent of homes don’t have landline telephone service even though wireless signals are often spotty or nonexistent. The 911 system often cannot track where people are calling from during an emergency. And high-speed Internet access has been almost entirely unavailable.

Data from the National Broadband Map, which is maintained by NTIA in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission, show that less than 4 percent of the population living in Navajo Nation territory has access to even the most basic wireline broadband speeds of 3 megabits per second downstream.

But with a $32 million grant from NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority is bringing a modern wireless communications system to a region that has been all too frequently bypassed by amenities that most Americans take for granted. Click here to read full article…