Tribal Lands Lag on Internet Deployment. Local Efforts Provide a Path Forward

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The digital divide facing tribal communities is stark and has remained pronounced despite the best efforts of advocacy groups and tribes themselves to help Indigenous people get online. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2021 Broadband Deployment Report, just under 47 percent of households on tribal lands in 2019 had access to broadband internet as the FCC defines it: 25 Megabits per second download speed and a 3 Mbps upload speed. Many tribal leaders are not waiting for the federal government or the private sector to intervene, as planned investments would do little to address the gaps in coverage. Instead, they are going it alone in their communities by building out their own networks to get their residents connected. These networks, often not profit-driven, have also been used to buy and sell goods, create apps, and educate others about locals' heritage and history.

Tribal Lands Lag on Internet Deployment. Local Efforts, Not Government Intervention, Is Providing a Path Forward in Some Cases