October 22, 2016
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National Broadbrand Plan Promises Native American Inclusion


Washington, DC – The Federal Communications Commission released its National Broadband Plan, called “Connecting America.” One of its goals is to bring broadband service to Indian Country.  The 360 page plan, described as a work in progress, includes  a number of specific recommendations on deployment, adoption, access, competition and digital literacy which were submitted in joint comments by Native Public Media, the National Congress of American Indians, the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association’s Tribal DigitalVillage, and New America Foundation.   




“Native Public Media has long advocated a significant change in prioritizing broadband deployment in Native and rural communities, where the digital chasm has the potential to foster a digital class system in this country,” stated Loris Ann Taylor, executive director of Native Public Media.  “This plan is encouraging and optimistic in addressing market failures that have left many parts of Indian Country behind.  Real reform must now follow.  That will be the test.”



Geoffrey Blackwell, Chair of the Native Public Media Advisory Council, and former FCC Senior Attorney on Tribal matters, adds, “This is a unique and important time for Native Nations in the history of our national communications policy.  Tribal needs and priorities are front and center in a way that they have never been before. Exacerbated by the incredible economic, demographic and geographic challenges that our Native Nations face, a lack of coordinated federal regulatory and legislative effort has helped lead to the desperately low levels of broadband penetration in Native communities.” 




Currently, broadband deployment on Tribal Lands is less than 10% and one in three families still do not have analog telephone service or 911 services. 




”The National Broadband Plan, the schematic for the future of our national communications infrastructure, has the genuine potential to change the communications landscape in Indian Country because it includes Tribal Nations in many new and meaningful ways.  For this, we recognize and thank the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC, Congress and the government as a whole must engage their imaginations with respect to the new creative elements of the plan, and endeavor to empower those elements of the plan that will genuinely change the environment so that Native communities can enjoy the benefits of the information age and the infamous digital divide can be defeated in Indian Country,” explains Blackwell




Taylor concludes that “While the Plan is certainly unconventional in many of its proposals, the Plan has a potential to close the digital divide that could spur the tribal economy, elevate health care, and provide more educational opportunities by increasing access to spectrum by Tribes and using new technologies to reach unserved communities.  At the end of the day, any high speed network must be affordable, accessible, and combined with digital literacy to be successful.”




The only organization of its kind, Native Public Media is an association of Tribal radio stations, and is wholly dedicated to building and advancing Native access to, ownership of, and participation in media. NPM’s mission is to promote healthy, engaged, independent Native communities by strengthening and expanding Native American media capacity and by empowering a strong, proud Native American voice. Since its inception, NPM has focused on using media as a tool for advancing economic development, preserving language and culture, promoting health and education, and facilitating engagement by Native Americans with the issues that affect Tribes and communities.

Contact: Traci Morris, Native Public Media (602) 810-4910

STORY TAGS: national, broadband, plan, native, american, indian, tribes, tribal, tribe, inclusion, coverage, black radio network, minority news, indian news, american indian news, tribe news, tribal news, native american news, fcc

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