LAS VEGAS — On closing day of the Reservation Economic Summit, Navajo Nation President Dr. Buu Nygren met with Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
In President Nygren’s keynote speech, he spoke to the use of technology in staying connected to his daughter which resonated with the Chairwoman who also does the same.
A discussion between the two was related to the many challenges for broadband technology development in the Navajo Nation.
Broadband technology refers to high-speed internet access that is capable of transmitting large amounts of data at high speeds. Broadband technology uses a wide range of technologies including cable modems, fiber-optic cable, satellite, and wireless technologies to provide high-speed internet access to users.
Broadband technology showed its importance when COVID-19 forced employers to create innovative ways by enabling people to work remotely and engage in online activities that require a high-speed internet connection.
The pandemic also revealed high-speed broadband connectivity in the Navajo Nation was virtually nonexistent, causing the tribal government and schools on the reservation to shut down for long periods.
President Nygren pointed out his understanding of the importance of both equity and equality for the Navajo People as it relates to the connectivity to the world for education, healthcare, economics, E-Commerce, and government operations.
“Everyone needs connectivity, which starts with our families and community,” President Nygren said. “Even our grandmas and grandpas at sheep camp are Facetiming with their grandkids in Phoenix. This is our world today.”
Rosenworcel spoke at the economic summit and said maps used by the FCC relied exclusively on data collected from broadband providers, which prevented tribes from reporting to the agency where a provider was not providing broadband despite stating to its customers that it was.
“We’re changing that,” Rosenworcel said. “We are in the process of releasing new maps and these new maps are subject to challenges by consumers, states, localities, and Native Nation.”
President Nygren extended an invitation to Chairwoman Rosenworcel to the Nation and continue their discussion related to funding and technical assistance.
“I want to give thousands of Navajo small businesses a chance to succeed. They need broadband connectivity to connect to customers and so customers can find them,” President Nygren said. “We also need it for their children to learn and take online classes and to bring equal education to our people.”
The FCC is an independent agency of the U.S. government that is responsible for regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. It was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and is tasked with ensuring that the use of the public airwaves is in the public interest.