The COVID-19 pandemic made access to high-speed internet more essential than ever, but the percent of households on tribal lands with access to reliable broadband remains far lower than the U.S. average. With hundreds of recognized and unrecognized tribes and native nations across North America, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to improving connectivity in these communities. However, as new funding for broadband becomes available, leaders in the public and private sectors should consider how to leverage that funding as effectively as possible to better serve tribal lands. This begins by bringing the tribes themselves into the planning process through meaningful consultation and collaboration. This panel will bring together expertise from Washington, D.C., and from those doing the work of building networks on the ground to explore how we can close the digital divide on tribal lands across the country.
Topic: Addressing the Broadband Buildout and Infrastructure Gap on Tribal Lands through Consultation and Collaborative Policy Development
Speakers: Professor Catherine Sandoval, Santa Clara University; Edyael Casaperalta, Rural Utilities Service; Eric Cutright, Chief Information Officer, Karuk Tribe; Forest James, President & CEO, Enertribe; and Kirk Burgee, Chief of Staff FCC, Wireline Competition Bureau