Wednesday, June 23, 2010

FCC attending to broadband for American Indians

I've written many posts about the dearth of broadband in rural America, such as the ones here and here, but a story on NPR's All Things Considered yesterday indicates that the FCC is particularly concerned about serving American Indians--most of whom live in rural communities--who are without broadband. Here's the story, "FCC Eyes Broadband for Indian Reservations," dateline Orleans, California, in Humboldt County, population 128,897. Orleans itself is not even a Census Designated Place. It lies near the Siskiyou County line, across which broadband is more plentiful (even though Siskiyou County's population is about a third of that of Humboldt County).

Here's an excerpt from the story:
[T]he cost of building compared with the return is one of the reasons American Indian communities have a long history of neglect when it comes to basic infrastructure. To help change that, at least for broadband, the FCC announced the appointment of Geoffrey Blackwell to lead its initiatives on American Indian affairs. Unfortunately, Blackwell says, the situation in Orleans is typical of American Indian country.

"We're not just talking about rural America; we're talking about remote America," he says. "We're talking about challenging terrain. We're talking about places that, by their design, where tribes were placed, didn't necessarily benefit from certain eras of federal infrastructure development like the Eisenhower interstate system."

Blackwell's appointment is part of the FCC's National Broadband Plan, which emphasizes rural connectivity — in particular for the more than 1.4 million American Indians who live in remote areas.

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