Indian Country: Falling into the Digital Divide?
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Indian Country: Falling into the Digital Divide?
Breaking the Digital Divide President Clinton plans to announce today a plan to bring better phone service to reservations for $1 a month. Scheduled to stop at Shiprock, NM, Clinton will make the announcement as part of his Breaking the Digital Divide tour.
Last week, Indianz.Com published statistics about phone coverage in Indian Country, including the Navajo Nation, where 80% of the population are without a telephone, according to the 1990 Census (See Digital Divide Stats 4/11).

To pay for Clinton's plan, all long distance telephone rates will increase by 0.4 percent in order to generate $17 million annually. Approximately 300,000 Indian households will receive the basic service.

Phone services available at lower costs encourages more people on the reservation to subscribe to local and long distance phone service. When the Gila River tribe bought the local phone company, usage went from less than 30% to now over 80%. On wide-open reservations where every call is a long distance call, access to less expensive telephone services is only the first part of the solution.

The next step requires individual members of tribes, Indian tribes, local schools and other facilities such as libraries and community centers to get connected to the Internet either through existing Internet Service Providers (ISP) or creating their own ISPs to service themselves. The Navajo Nation's Hogback chapter expects to receive a computer in August that will be used by everyone in the community, from school students to business users.

In related news, The Microsoft Corporation has announced it will donate $2.5 million in software and $200,000 to eight tribal colleges, including Dine College in Shiprock.

Elder Wisdom:
Raymond Gachupin testifies about the impact of technology.

Previous Installment:
Indian Country: Falling into the Digital Divide? (Indianz.Com Tech 4/11)

Related stories:
Clinton to announce plan for better phone service for American Indians (AP 4/17)
Clinton's Phone Rate Hike Aids Native Americans (The Washington Post 4/17)
Navajos hope Clinton visit will help bring their nation online (AP 4/16)
Microsoft donating $2.7 million to bridge digital divide for tribes (AP 4/16)
Clinton to announce plan for better phone service for Indians (AP 4/16)
President to drop in on Navajos (The Albuquerque Journal 4/15)

Relevant Links:
Indian Initiatives from the FCC.
The Whitehouse
Microsoft, Corp
Dine College from Indian U. Tribal Colleges.