Makah Indian Reservation case study

  • Case
    • The Makah Reservation is a long-standing tribe that has lived around Neah Bay at the northwest tip of Washington State
    • The tribe has been working to obtain better broadband services for the last several years but due to its landscape of dense rainforest and steep hills, far removed from any major urban center, it has been difficult for services.
    • In light of covid the pandemic has become an immediate service required for clinics, schools, and first responders.
  •  Funding/ Support
    • The Makah Tribe gained the license for Educational Broadband Service, or EBS over their territory through FCC
      • EBS is uniquely suited to remote locations, requiring fewer towers and less extensive infrastructure to reach hard-to-connect locations.
    • Partnership with MuralNet and gathered the equipment – about $5,000 worth – required to launch its own network over EBS.
    • Applied for a Special Temporary Authorization (STA) from the FCC, which would allow them to begin using the spectrum immediately and could later be expanded to a permanent license
    • Makah Tribe and CenturyLink, introduced high speed broadband internet in Neah Bay, Washington
      • CenturyLink will provide internet speeds between 25 and 40 mbps.
  • Strategies for success 
    • Viewing Broadband access as a means of emergency management
      • First responders did not have speeds fast enough to connect or respond. The importance of broadband during the pandemic played a major role in mobilizing the community.
      • Provide better healthcare, education, and emergency services.
    • Organization and Partnership
      • Partnerships give tribe opportunity to have access to the world
      • Process is not easy, it took two years for CentryLink to bring in broadband access and provided support amongst the reservation
      • Still working with hurdles of specific areas that can not get access, but Information Technology Director is still in process of working with communication towers

Key Themes: Emergency Management – Reliance – Roadblocks

Issues: Terrain – First Responders – Healthcare

Strategies: Partnerships – Respond and Mobilize

Forms of Access: Emergency Personnel – Municipal Offices –