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Marketplace: Broadband access lagging on reservations

"The Obama administration has made broadband availability a major priority. But while access is around 65 percent in the general population, in Native American communities, it's around 5 to 10 percent.

That's obviously a big gap. We talk to John Badal. He runs a company called Sacred Wind Communications, which is trying to bring broadband access to Native communities in New Mexico. He says customers he talks to desperately want to be able to get online but he says the biggest hurdle in making that happen is getting through red tape.

"Most areas that we serve, we have to get permission from the tribe and from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to survey a particular site," he says. "Once we get that permission to survey the site, then we have to go out and conduct a center line survey and archaeological and environmental assessment and package all of those things with proper documentation. Pay a permit fee, submit it to various jurisdictions depending on who's managing the lands. That process can take from six months to two and a half years."

We also talk to Geoffrey Blackwell, chief of the the Office of Native Affairs and Policy for the FCC. Blackwell says that getting some of these homes online means coordinating efforts among federal agencies but also between those agencies and state and tribal agencies."

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Marketplace: Broadband access in Native American communities lagging far behind (American Public Media 4/25)

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