On Thursday July 23, 2020, Next Century Cities submitted a letter to the Federal Communications Commission supporting the National Congress of American Indian’s Emergency Motion for Stay of the 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window. The letter highlighted the following points:
- Broadband access on tribal lands is not sufficient for modern applications. The Rural Tribal Priority Window provides an opportunity for Indigenous communities to apply for spectrum and deploy wireless broadband solutions.
- COVID-19 has had serious impacts on Indigenous communities. Many of the programs that were put in place to assist Tribes in applying for spectrum were moved online or canceled, which provides little help for the unconnected residents who need to apply.
- Extending the Rural Tribal Priority Window will help close the digital divide in Tribal communities and help indigenous populations across the nation meaningfully participate in a digital society.
The Commission should adopt the motion and extend the application deadline. This will give Tribal communities an extra 182 days to complete, file and amend their applications for spectrum in the 2.5 GHz band. Over 50% of households on Tribal lands still do not have access to the 25/3 Mpbs broadband service. Granting the motion is an important step to connect the unserved and underserved Tribes, Native Hawaiian communities, and Alaskan Native villages that have historically struggled to secure broadband access for their communities.
Read the letter as submitted here.