Gila River Indian Reservation case study

  • Case
    • Gila River Indian Community covers just over 370,000 acres just south of Phoenix, Arizona a population of 14,000 people
    • When the COVID-19 pandemic began, residents on the reservation needed broadband to get kids online for school, attend meetings, and connect with loved ones.
  •  Funding
    •  Gila River used funding from the CARES Act to install more wireless internet and develop vehicles that act as mobile hotspots when parked near schools and community centers.
    • The E-Rate program provides funding for mobile hotspots at schools and libraries for families to access brief windows of time to use the internet. 
      • Limited hours, weak connections, and E-Rate rules that prohibit funding for home internet access make this an imperfect long-term solution.
    • While some communities may have access to broadband, the price of connectivity can be a significant barrier to get families connected. 
  • Strategies for success for this project
    • Cost still is one of the largest barriers moving forward with the broadband installation for the Gila River Reservation. Finding funding and partnerships is a key focus.
      • Understanding the economic impact this has on the reservation is required in order to help build a sustainable infrastructure within the reservation
        • While the FCC’s Lifeline program provides a $25 monthly subsidy for households participating on tribal lands, $25 just doesn’t cut it when the average monthly cost for internet service in the Native Nation is $127.51.

Key Themes: Reliance – Empathy – Engagement – Economy

Issues: Covid -19 – Distance Learning

Strategies: Building Funding – Building Partnerships

Forms of Access: Community