FCC EBS Broadband Outreach to Remote Tribal Areas

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The Havasupai tribe lives near the Grand Canyon, in fact, more like in the canyon itself, where broadband connectivity is as hard to get as it is unprofitable for the major carriers to supply it. To remedy the situation, the FCC has allocated some of the Educational Broadband Service (EBS) spectrum for their use, reported FoxNews.

Speaking on behalf of the tribe, Ophelia Watahomigie-Corliss said the internet was crucial for the children in her tribe. 

“[The school system] only goes up to eighth grade and the only option for high school is to move out of the canyon to earn their diploma,” she commented. Online resources would allow the young population and their families to stay in the region. 

While the available spectrum is an asset, a delivery system is still needed to boost the signal to areas currently without internet service. Suggesting that large telecoms are unlikely to provide these services, Martin Casado of non-profit firm MuralNet explains what companies like his can do to help. By using inexpensive equipment that is then reprogrammed, MuralNet brings down operational costs.

Use of the EBS band still may not bring the speed and connectivity advantages that more urban areas enjoy, but getting any signal to the Havasupai tribe keeps them linked to the rest of the world. More options are needed to connect geographically challenged communities. Networking company ADTRAN spokesman Gary Bolton stated, there are still about 19 million Americans are on the “losing side” of the digital divide.

May 29, 2019

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