Navajo soon to be wireless
Weekend Edition | Jan. 8, 2012 | By: NPStaff writer
Many people on the vast remote land of the Navajo reservation have no internet, computer, or cell phone coverage. with uncertainty, the environment can turn in a matter of hours that could leave you stranded or loss in the rural back lands of this 27,000 square mile of Indian country. Technology is certainly slowly but surely creeping into the reservation.
Last Year, In late March 2010, NTUA was notified, a Navajo Nation Telecommunications Company that it received a grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to build a fiber and microwave infrastructure throughout the central core of the Navajo Nation.
The release at that time said, NTUA received $32.2 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which at the time was the largest broadband grant awarded in the United States. Overall, the project will cost approximately $46 million, which includes a $14 million co‐match from NTUA and sub‐grant recipient Commnet Wireless.
“We have been told that we are way out in front of other broadband grant awardees in terms of project development,” NTUA General Manager Walter Haase said. “We have reached a level of achievement that has others taking notice.”
In addition, by late October 2010, NTUA received federal clearance to begin construction. On November 19, 2010 NTUA released and awarded seven Requests for Proposals (RFPs) amounting to almost $8 million for equipment and materials, including fiber, construction material, and splicing equipment for fiber installation. The order has been placed and the materials are expected to arrive late January 2011 or early February 2011.
According to the release, Internet will be provided to fixed and mobile services to over 30,000 households and 1,000 businesses in 15 of the largest communities on the Navajo Nation, including Window Rock, Shiprock, Kayenta, Chinle, Crownpoint, and Tuba City. In addition, the project will provide high capacity connectivity on the combined middle‐mile backbone to an additional 49 tribal communities.
“This is significant for schools, hospitals, and tribal agencies. Physicians and health care personnel throughout the Navajo Nation will be able to utilize telemedicine services. With this project, we can build the foundation of a true emergency‐911 notification network,” said NTUA General Manager Haase. “We are looking forward to building this project so that the region and our communities will realize and experience the benefits of advanced technologies that are necessary to promote economic growth, offer quality education and health care opportunities, and enhance public safety efforts.”
The Navajo people remain optimistic about this new coming of the digital technology, many Navajos that live off the reservation are excited and hope this will improve the way they communicate with their families that live on the Navajo Nation, The broad band is expected to roll out in March of 2012.