- 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.
- 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