Navajo President Ben Shelly visits the tribe's new 6,400-square-foot data and network operating center. (Courtesy Navajo Nation)

'Technology Nation': Navajos Open Data Center for Broadband Cloud

August 15, 2013

Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly yesterday opened a tier three data and network operating center as part of the broadband initiative he began in 2009.

“Today, we celebrate our very first data center of many to come,” said President Shelly at the new 6,400 square foot facility. “We are a technology nation just as much as we are an energy nation.”

The technology center will be operated by NTUA-Wireless, LLC, a for-profit company created three years ago when the Navajo Nation was heading the broadband effort through a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant. Seventy percent of the workforce at the new facility are Navajo, said NTUA General Manager Walter Haase.

“The day following the field hearing in Flagstaff, our Navajo staff formed a broadband work group,” said the president. “They brought together telephone companies, Internet Service Providers, government offices, enterprises, hospitals, schools, city and county governments. They even reached out to the Hopi tribe, and the Hopi Telecommunications Inc.”

The tier three site is a secure facility that relies on card keys and bio metrics for staff access, with 30-inch raised floors, and security cameras. There is one uplink through a fiber backbone to Albuquerque, with another pathway being negotiated through Gallup creating redundancy. The facility has two power feeds, and one Cummings diesel generator with storage batteries on site.

“With the cloud, we are inviting companies, corporation, large groups across America to store their data here on the Navajo Nation,” said the president. It is a smart move.”

U.S. Senators Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, and Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, were represented by staff, along with U.S. Congressman Ben Lujan, D-3-New Mexico. Governor Susana Martinez was represented by Indian Affairs Department Arthur Allison. State Representative Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-District 4 said that President Shelly led the effort in Washington, D.C. during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act period in which the Navajo Nation received more than $500 million for infrastructure projects.