MuralNet Helps to Close the Digital Divide on Tribal Land by Assisting with FCC Spectrum License Application Process

All of us here at TribalHub hope this podcast finds you and your family safe and well.  In the midst of this global pandemic, I hope that this show brings some "normalcy" to your day.

In this episode we are going to cover the digital divide that we see in Indian Country and what the non profit group MuralNet is doing to help tribes across the country bridge that divide. Wireless high speed internet is now almost a necessity for daily living - and we see that today more than ever.  With every state under a "social distancing" order, we are looking to technology to keep us connected.  From telemedicine, to weather announcements, to news updates and social interaction, we have to have access to a network.  Many in Indian Country, however, are not this lucky.  One of the documented major obstacles to accessing wireless high speed internet on rural tribal reservations is the lack of infrastructure and funding to build it.

And this is where MuralNet comes in.  Cat Blake & Crystal Hottowe work with the MuralNet to help tribes build their own networks; with the hopes to bring the number of homes with access to wireless high speed internet on tribal reservations up to national levels. MuralNet provides various services to tribes including assistance with spectrum acquisition & analysis, high-level engineering plans, help with grant applications & waivers, and more specific to applying for a spectrum licence over tribal land.

Recently, the FCC opened a 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Window, which is a unique application process/opportunity that tribes in rural areas currently have that could allow tribes to get direct access to unassigned spectrum. If Tribal entities don’t apply for the free licenses for these airwaves, they will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. The window to apply ends August 3rd. This opportunity is one of the things MuralNet is working hard to encourage tribes across the nation to apply for.  To date, the group has helped 7 tribes secure spectrum, and are helping more and more each day.

Listen in as Cat & Crystal discuss MuralNet, the Tribal Window opportunity, and a grant available for tribes to apply for called ReConnect.  

If you have a topic for our show, or would have a story to share, please contact us at michelleb@tribalhub.com

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Mentioned Websites:

MuralNet webpage:  www.muralnet.org 

Info page on the 2.5 GHz tribal priority window: https://muralnet.org/tribalprioritywindow/

Blog documenting the ReConnect process: https://muralnet.org/funding/

Reference articles:

https://www.minneapolisfed.org/article/2019/the-digital-divide-in-indian-country

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/06/673364305/native-americans-on-tribal-land-are-the-least-connected-to-high-speed-internet

https://www.wiley.law/alert-FCC-to-Auction-Unassigned-25-GHz-Spectrum-for-Commercial-Use

 

 



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