Collaborating With Philanthropy to Address the Digital Divide in Native American Communities
Tribal lands and Native American communities are some of the least connected places in the United States. Infrastructure deployment lags behind that in other rural communities. Only 46.6 percent of housing units on rural tribal lands have access to broadband service. And even when they are connected, households on tribal lands tend to pay more for basic broadband plans and receive lower speeds. Native Americans are increasingly building their own broadband networks to deliver high-quality internet access for their communities, but they face significant challenges—from access to financing, to access to spectrum, to technical knowledge and skills. Tribal Broadband Bootcamps (TBBs) provide an intensive learning experience on the technical, business, policy, and social aspects of building, maintaining, and using broadband networks in Native American communities. Over three days, bootcamps bring together network architects, service managers, and policy experts to walk tribal participants through building and operating networks. TBBs are focused on hands-on, practical learning that demystifies the technical aspects, including how deep to trench fiber and how to build, break, and repair wireless connections. Through sessions on funding opportunities and how to enroll community members in the Affordable Connectivity Program, TBBs ensure that these networks are sustainable and will continue to serve Native American communities for decades to come.
Experts in Community Networks and Tribal Connectivity Collaborate With Philanthropy to Address the Digital Divide in Native Amer