The Native American Broadband Association was created to provide tribes with the information that they need to understand broadband issues, to help them apply for broadband funding grants and loans, and to find technology partners. NABA also acts as an voice for Native Americans in Washington.
8/26/10 PROGRESS AND PLANNING TELECONFERENCE
BROADBAND IN INDIAN COUNTRY
(rsvp to mpruner@NativeAmericanBroadband.org)
Where: Office of Intersections International @ 274 Fifth Ave. in NYC (between 29th and 30th - next door to the Marble Collegiate Church) Ph # and access code to be provided.
Co-Hosts: Native American Broadband Association & Intersections International
When: Thursday, August 26, 2010 - starting with a 12:00 Noon Update on Tribal Broadband Funding and the National Broadband Plan followed by working session from 1:00 till 4:00 PM
- Tribal Leaders involved in telecom/broadband
- IGO Reps
- Government Reps from FCC, Commerce Dept., USDA,
- DOI/BIA, IHS
- Service Providers
- Lawyers and Consultants
- Foundation representatives
- Reps from OK (grant approved) and VA (pending) with broadband applications
- New York, Native and Tech press
12:00: Introductions by Harold Pruner, Chairman, NABA and Bob Chase, Director, Intersections International
12:05 USDA status, fundings and future
DOC NTIA status, fundings and future
FCC - National Broadband Plan
12:35 Questions and Answers
12:45 Lunch break
1:00 Reports from Tribes that got 1st or 2nd round broadband stimulus grants
1:15 Report from Council on Foundations and certain broadband oriented Foundations on their private sector rural/Indian broadband initiative
1:30 Report from ESPA and WISPA on the role of Service Providers in broadband expansion and program implementation
1:50 Discussion on broadband satellite and tribes
2:05 Discussion on Tribal Broadband Conference on Universal Service to be held in conjunction with FCC and/or with IGOs, trade associations and foundations
2:45 Discussion on setting up a joint public/private sector broadband Education/Adoption/Implementation outreach program to help Indians and their Anglo neighbors get connected.
3:15 Discussion on tribal mapping and the National Broadband Map
3:30 Federal Policy changes including USF reform, RUS Title II preference
3:45 Summary and Closing Comments
Please RSVP to mpruner@NativeAmericanBroadband.org
For more information contact:
Native American Broadband Association
$4.8 BILLION IN FUNDS AVAILABLE FOR BROADBAND
FOR INDIAN TRIBES
NTIA’s BTOP and USDA’s BIP Program Application Period Opens 2/16/10
The second round of the funding for rural broadband is available for application by Indian tribes and others opens next Tuesday, February 16, 2010. The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) is distributing $2.6 billion in Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grants and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service (RUS) is distributing $2.2 billion dollars in Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP) loans and grants. The Native American Broadband Association (NABA) is helping tribes and technology companies partner to apply for these grants.
“Tribes may have a much better chance in this second round since the rules for filing for the BIP and in particular the BTOP funding are better adapted to tribes situations,” said Harold Pruner, Chairman of NABA. “In the second round BTOP has seven criteria to get funding priority and six of these criteria match up well with many tribes, so many applicants are looking to partner with tribes so that both tribe and company have a better chance of getting funding,” he said.
The BIP program has a 12 category points system for awarding funds and RUS’ Administrator has discretionary criteria for additional points, many of which can result in additional points being awarded to tribes. In addition to the BIP’s mile 75/25 grant loan combination and BTOP’s 80% grant funding, the ARRA provides funding for public computer centers, programs promoting broadband adoption, rural libraries and satellite broadband services. In the first round a satellite program serving rural Alaskan native villages received a $25MM.
NABA has posted the Notices of Funds Availability for the BIP and BTOP programs at www.NativeAmericanBroadband.org, along with summaries of the two NOFAs. The site also provides a contact form for tribes and technology companies that are looking for partners. With the filing period closing March 15, 2010 tribes and companies are actively looking for partners now.
NABA has also worked with the FCC on including tribes in the National Broadband plan coming out March 17, 2010. “We are pleased that the FCC will include an Indian element in its recommended NBP, because this will pay long term benefits for Indian Country,” said Harold Pruner
About NABA: The Native American Broadband Association was created immediately after the first rural broadband NOFA was issued and has worked with tribes, RUS and NTIA to help get broadband services to Native American tribes, the most underserved group in America.
Contact Info – Mark Pruner, President Native American Broadband Association, 203-969-7900, firstname.lastname@example.org
February 9, 2010
WHY 2010 IS A CRUCIAL YEAR FOR TRIBES AND BROADBAND
By September 2010 Indian Country will be changed for decades. Tribes need to move quickly to control their future or someone else will use the $7.2 billion available for broadband networks for their benefit.
The Three Networks in Indian Country
Twice before networks made major changes to Indian Country. In the 19th Century a network of railroad tracks were laid across Indian Country resulting in the wiping out of the buffalo herds, providing quick movement of military personnel, and the influx of millions of immigrants. Most of the railroad roadbeds laid down then are still in the same place today over 100 years later. The second network was the system of electrical and telephone lines laid out in rural America in the 20th Century. Once again, once the lines were put in they tended to stay where they were.
These facilities stayed in place, because moving infrastructure is expensive, but also because serving widely scatted areas is expensive and the revenue potential is low. As a result, once the facilities are in place, other competitors are not likely to come in and compete. Installing facilities in rural areas are usually only done once and the pricing of the service is higher than in cities.
Broadband, Tribes, Governance and Employment
For tribal government however, broadband service will play a vital role in nearly everything they do. Broadband allows tribal leaders to communicate with their members and vice versa. Students can get lessons about their language, culture and history. Older tribal members can easily train for new jobs as the economy evolves. Tribal medical facilities can send and receive electronic medical records, including CT scans and MRIs wherever they are needed.
Broadband also brings employment to the reservation in a variety of ways. First, there are all the jobs involved with installing the broadband facilities. Second, these facilities need maintenance personnel and engineers to manage the systems and install new software and technologies as the technology evolves. Third, several tribes are looking into setting up business to provide broadband services to other tribes.
Once connected to broadband, tribal members have a variety of other employment opportunities, because broadband makes geographic distance a minor consideration. Traditional tribal businesses and artisans now can market their goods and services across the U.S. and the world. Tribes located in remote areas with low wages and high unemployment actually have an advantage for services such as call centers, website creation, and database management. Any service that is price sensitive can now look to reservations for new employees. Many of these services have been outsourced overseas, most companies would prefer not to have deal with the complexities of another set of laws, international travel, language issues and currency fluctuations. Ttelemedicine and distance learning facilities will need people to create, manage and move the data. All of these jobs mean that tribal members need not leave Indian Country to find good jobs.
The Advantage of Disadvantage
Clearly what happens between now on September 2010 is one of the turning points in history for tribes. One advantage that tribes have however, is that they have less old technology to deal with so that they can more readily move to the 21st Century. With the increase in netbooks and high-powered portable devices like the iPhone wireless solutions are a good solution in low-density areas. Having ubiquitous broadband for Internet, cell phone and even cableless TV will mean that reservations will have more modern technology than many cities. Tribes can also have constant connections wherever they travel on the reservation.
Working with Local Communities Make Broadband More Powerful
These broadband networks to be most effective need to be shared with neighboring towns and areas off the reservation. Networks by their nature are most effective when connections are shared with as many people as possible. A famous network engineer, Robert Metcalfe, has said that the power of a network is equal to the square of the number of users. So a network with 10 connections is 100 times more useful than a network with only one connection. The changes the Internet has wrought illustrate this every day. A corollary of this rule is that a network that serves the most people in an area will be much more powerful than a network that only serves a portion of an area and political boundaries are irrelevant so local communities and tribes must work together to get the most benefits to each community.
Tribal Sovereignty in the 21st Century
While making sure that networks inter-operate, tribes need to protect their tribal sovereignty in the data information age. The right to keep data private and send it to who the tribe and its member decide to and when they want to send it is the new tribal sovereignty. If tribes don’t control their own networks, computers and data they will give up much of their tribal sovereignty in the 21st Century. Another way to think of data sovereignty is tribal privacy; tribes must have the ability to keep membership, financial, health, education and personnel data private. Before the rise of a world-wide network, personal information could sit in a file cabinet in some agency office and the information would not move from that spot for years. Now any information that is in electronic form can be sent to anyone on the Internet with a few keystrokes and posted on the web for everyone to see. Today any information that leaves the tribe is in much greater danger of being exposed than ever before.
This information is also at risk when it passes through third-party systems. Just as operators used to listen in on conversations, now network people can sample the data that moves through their systems to see what might be of interest. Hackers are also becoming much more skilled and if the tribe controls the network they can decide how much effort to devote to manage their security. For all of the above reasons tribes need to take advantage of the broadband funds made available in the Recovery Act and proactively set up their networks working with third parties while protecting their tribal sovereignty.