FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore, Flickr/Creative Commons)
A $4.1 million injection over the next decade will empower the Northern Arapaho Tribal Industries (NATI) to expand broadband to rural homes and businesses on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming.
The Federal Communications Commission today authorized the funding, part of the fourth wave of last year’s s Connect America Fund Phase II auction.
Today the FCC authorized over $121 million in funding over the next 10 years to expand broadband to 36,579 unserved rural homes and businesses in 16 states.
“Broadband deployment on Tribal lands continues to lag behind the rest of the nation,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “That’s why I’m so pleased that we are authorizing funding for a Tribally-owned business to provide Gigabit-speed service on the Wind River Reservation. With this project, Native Americans who live on the Wind River Reservation will have access to the same super-fast broadband speeds as those who live in our nation’s big cities.”
In today’s authorization, NATI will provide service offering downstream speeds of at least 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) and 500 Megabits per second upstream on the reservation. It is the second major authorization of funding on Tribal lands from the auction. In the program’s second funding wave, on June 10, FCC authorized nearly $6.7 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband to approximately 2,350 unserved rural New Mexico homes and businesses, most of which are on Tribal lands.
Providers in the program must build out to 40 percent of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas won in a state within three years. Buildout must increase by 20 percent in each subsequent year, until complete buildout is reached at the end of the sixth year.
The Connect America Fund Phase II auction last year allocated $1.488 billion nationwide in support to expand broadband to more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses over the next 10 years. It is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America. On August 1, the FCC proposed taking its biggest single step to date toward closing the rural digital divide by establishing the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which would direct up to $20.4 billion to expand broadband in unserved rural areas.
NATI, a wholly owned enterprise of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, counts 15 year of experience delivering IT, technical assistance, telecomm and health services to federal agencies, Tribal clients and more.