September 17, 24 & October 1, 2021 | Virtual Summit
Closing the Digital Divide
Today, more than ever before, access to reliable and affordable broadband service is critical to the health, wellbeing, and economic development of Tribal nations. The Biden Administration is making historic investments to broadband in rural and Tribal communities, and is committed to bringing affordable, reliable high-speed broadband to all Americans. The National Tribal Broadband Summit is a unique opportunity for Tribal Leaders, representatives of Tribal organizations, representatives of schools and school districts serving under-connected Native students, tribal libraries, museums, and cultural programs, federal program managers, and policy-makers at multiple levels of government to come together and share their innovations in expanding broadband access and adoption for tribal communities.
This September, the Department of the Interior (DOI), in collaboration with the Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, the Federal Communications Commission, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the White House Council for Native American Affairs, will convene tribal broadband industry experts to discuss how to make the most use of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grant funds, American Rescue Plan Act funds, and other Federal funding opportunities for broadband, and how to plan for the future of Tribal broadband networks and digital economies. This summit will provide a platform for leaders across the broadband deployment ecosystem to share best practices, new ideas, and lessons learned from their real-world experience bringing broadband service to Native American communities. This year’s event will focus on:
- Implementing the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grant. Planning and implementing network construction and expansions, obtaining rights of way, NEPA assessments, and multi-jurisdictional projects. Implementing telehealth, distance learning, adoption, and workforce development projects, including equipment distribution and maintenance, curriculum development, and training methodologies.
- Planning for Long Term Success. Identifying needs, setting goals, creating strategies, developing a plan and leveraging data to maximize the short and long-term educational, cultural and economic benefits of connectivity. Developing a local tribal workforce to maintain and operate networks, capacity building for Tribes and Tribal organizations, and achieving financial stability.
- Technical Solutions, Middle Mile, Connectivity Solutions. Exploring the various connectivity options available and identifying possible solutions to bring broadband to Tribal lands. E.g., spectrum white spaces, new spectrum and how best to use it, and middle mile networks.
- Broadband Use and Adoption. Leveraging technology to improve health care outcomes via telehealth services, enhancing economic development, increasing community engagement, and expanding educational opportunity.
Importance of this Summit
The United States of America is the wealthiest country in the world, yet we rank 13th when it comes to the overall quality of our infrastructure. Too many lack access to affordable, broadband service. Reliable high-speed internet has become a staple of twenty-first century life for Americans across the country. Healthcare, education, entertainment, public safety, entrepreneurship, agriculture and many other industries are all increasingly dependent on broadband. And, according to FCC data from the middle of 2020, while over 98 percent of the population in urban areas has access to wired broadband service, but only 65 percent of the population on Tribal lands is estimated to have the same access, and there are many tribal areas without any broadband service. Insufficient or non-existent service on Tribal lands inhibits individuals’ access to education, healthcare, and economic resources and impedes Tribes’ efforts to achieve self-governance and self-determination.
After this Summit, participants will leave with new insights into how to close the digital divide in Indian Country, unlocking opportunities that broadband access can provide.
Bringing New and Innovative Opportunities to Indian Country
Broadband access in many parts of Indian Country is complicated by the need for federal appraisals, rights-of-way permits, and obtaining favorable environmental impact assessments. The annual National Tribal Broadband Summit is part of DOI’s ongoing efforts to close the digital divide and builds on the work of the White House Council for Native American Affairs. With DOI and BIA working internally to make broadband development in Indian Country less burdensome, the National Tribal Broadband Summit will provide an overview of the other critical components to achieving full broadband access and adoption throughout Indian Country: new technologies and innovative partnership solutions.
US Department of the Interior
About the Organizers
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