Government Accountability Office

FCC Should Undertake Efforts to Better Promote Tribal Access to Spectrum

The US Government Accountability Office was asked to review spectrum use by tribal entities—tribal governments and tribally owned telecommunications providers. This report examines (1) tribal entities' ability to obtain and access spectrum to provide broadband services and the reported barriers that may exist, and (2) the extent to which the Federal Communications Commission promotes and supports tribal efforts to obtain and access spectrum. GAO interviewed 16 tribal entities that were using wireless technologies.

FCC's Data Overstate Access, and Tribes Face Barriers Accessing Funding

Tribal lands have lower levels of broadband access than the rest of the nation. Congress has prioritized identifying unserved areas and targeting funds to increase broadband deployment, including on tribal lands. In this testimony, the GAO found:

Tribal Broadband: Few Partnerships Exist and the Rural Utilities Service Needs to Identify and Address Any Funding Barriers Tribes Face

In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission estimated that 35 percent of Americans living on tribal lands lack broadband service compared to 8 percent of Americans overall. Various federal programs support increasing broadband deployment in unserved areas, including tribal lands. Tribes can form partnerships with private sector companies and others to deploy broadband infrastructure on tribal lands. The US Government Accountability Office was asked to provide information on these partnerships.

FCC's Data Overstate Access on Tribal Lands

The Government Accountability Office was asked to review the Federal Communications Commission's efforts to collect broadband data for tribal lands. This report examines the extent to which: (1) FCC's approach to collecting broadband data accurately captures broadband access on tribal lands and (2) FCC obtains tribal input on the data.