Broadband access in Native American communities lagging far behind

Molly Wood Apr 25, 2011
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Broadband access in Native American communities lagging far behind

Molly Wood Apr 25, 2011
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That’s obviously a big gap. We talk to John Badal. He runs a company called Sacred Wind Communications, which is trying to bring broadband access to Native communities in New Mexico. He says customers he talks to desperately want to be able to get online but he says the biggest hurdle in making that happen is getting through red tape.

“Most areas that we serve, we have to get permission from the tribe and from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to survey a particular site,” he says. “Once we get that permission to survey the site, then we have to go out and conduct a center line survey and archaeological and environmental assessment and package all of those things with proper documentation. Pay a permit fee, submit it to various jurisdictions depending on who’s managing the lands. That process can take from six months to two and a half years.”

We also talk to Geoffrey Blackwell, chief of the the Office of Native Affairs and Policy for the FCC. Blackwell says that getting some of these homes online means coordinating efforts among federal agencies but also between those agencies and state and tribal agencies.

Blackwell cites a recent study that says Native American households are more likely to adopt broadband when it’s available than the general population is. The challenge is getting that access to happen.

Also in today’s program, a new tech vocabulary term: “dermal punches.” The FDA has approved a robot to use dermal punches to restore hair. And now you have to imagine that.

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