Digital Exclusion High in Indian Country
Broadband access is limited for people living in rural and Tribal areas throughout the United States, according to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) latest Broadband Progress Report to Congress.
About 26 million Americans reside in areas not served by broadband that is capable of originating and receiving high-quality voice, data, graphics and video telecommunications, stated the American Indian Report. Even when broadband access is available, about one-third of Americans do not subscribe, according to the report released in mid-May.
"The fact remains ... that too many Americans remain unable to fully participate in our economy and society because they lack broadband," the report states.
Digital exclusion limits healthcare, educational and employment opportunities; whereas the "availability of broadband in many areas of the nation promotes a virtuous cycle of investment, innovation, and competition," explains the Broadband Progress Report.
In March 2011 the FCC unanimously approved plans to explore introducing broadband and communications services to new Indian territories. To aid the expansion, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski designated 30 members to serve on the Native Nations Broadband Task Force, stated the National Journal. The task force for the National Broadband Plan, developed in 2009 by the FCC at the request of Congress, will work to increase broadband deployment and adoption on Tribal lands, according to NationalBroadbandPlan.org.