WASHINGTON – A coalition of federal agencies are working together to address the issue of bridging the digital divide and increasing internet access in the Indian country. The Home Office and the Institute for Museum and Library Services are partnering with the Rural Development Service of the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Ministry of Agriculture. Trade for the 2021 National Tribal Broadband Summit, which will run throughout September as a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Tribal Broadband Summit provides a platform for leaders in the broadband development ecosystem to share best practices, new ideas, and lessons learned from their first-hand experiences of bringing high-speed Internet to markets. businesses, governments and tribal homes.
“The tribes have lagged further behind in the digital divide than most parts of the country due to the continued lack of infrastructure investment in the Indian country,” said Home Secretary Deb Haaland. “This summit represents an opportunity to leverage Biden-Harris administration’s whole-of-government approach to help ensure the federal government fulfills its responsibilities to tribal communities by bringing broadband to Indian country, fueling economic development and ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
âAs the pandemic has shown us, access to affordable, high-quality broadband has never been more important,â said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. âOn tribal lands, the digital divide is particularly marked. The Biden-Harris administration has embarked on a whole-of-government effort to bridge this divide and fully connect the Indian country to the internet. I am proud to partner with Secretaries Haaland and Vilsack on this collaborative effort to work with tribal nations to implement broadband investments as effectively as possible.
âHigh-speed internet is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, participate equally in school learning, health care, and stay connected. Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure offering minimally acceptable speeds – a particular problem in rural and Native American communities across the country â Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “Under the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris, USDA is committed to ensuring that historic funding measures in the US Jobs Plan, and soon to be the bipartisan infrastructure deal, are evenly distributed. between the communities most in need of these investments, including and especially in the Amerindian communities.
âThe Tribal Broadband Summit is the premier forum for the technological needs of First Nations and tribal lands during what has been one of the most difficult times in modern tribal history,â said Crosby Kemper, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. âHaving recently visited the Pueblo Libraries in New Mexico, I can attest to the invaluable importance of this effort in providing everyone with virtual education, health care and employment support, as well as information. on the tribal community. ”
Registration is now open to tribal chiefs; representatives of tribal organizations, tribal colleges and universities, as well as schools and school districts serving under-connected indigenous students; Libraries, museums and tribal cultural centers; private sector stakeholder organizations; and federal program managers and policy makers. Participants will leave with tools to help them bridge the connectivity gap in the Indian country and open the doors to the opportunities that broadband access can offer.
As the pandemic has forced students to shift their learning online and many people to telecommute, the need for home broadband access has become increasingly evident and critical. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that 18 million Americans still do not have home access to high-speed Internet service, defined as a download speed of 25 megabits per second. Tribal lands are among the most digitally disconnected areas in the United States, where 1.5 million people lack basic broadband and wireless services. And, according to a 2018 Commission report, around 35% of people living on tribal lands do not have broadband access.
Service providers, engineers, researchers, funders, regulators, anchor institutions, telehealth and distance learning specialists, tribal governments, organizations and institutions and Other key players from across the country are invited to submit their best projects, programs or initiatives in the planning, construction, provision and use of tribal broadband networks that will be presented at this year’s summit.