By Camila Pedrosa
Cronkite News 

Vicious circle: Tribal broadband program hindered by lack of broadband


Last updated 3/28/2022 at 3:40pm

Megan Marples/Cronkite News

A second grader, Winona Begaye, uploads homework from the backseat of her family's car on the Navajo reservation. Lack of broadband access led many trible schools to set up portable Wi-Fi sites when schools were closed by the pandemic.

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Tribal advocates told a Senate panel in January that the federal government's effort to fund expanded broadband infrastructure in Indian Country overlooked a fundamental issue.

Many tribes did not have the broadband access needed to apply for the funding that would let them improve broadband access.

Information about the first round of grants was available only online, and tribes were encouraged to apply online in a 90-day window during the pandemic. The upshot, said Matthew Rantanen, was that only about half of all eligible tribal communities applied for the funding.


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