Sinema Increases Access to Broadband for Rural and Tribal Communities in Arizona

Jan 14, 2020

Senator helped secure a priority window for tribes in Arizona to apply for broadband licenses

WASHINGTON – Following a request from Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema, tribal communities in Arizona will have a priority window to apply for broadband licenses beginning in February, allowing tribes across Arizona the opportunity to increase their connectivity and close the digital divide. 
“Increasing access to broadband improves tribal and rural communities’ access to health care, education, and jobs and helps close Arizona’s digital divide,” said Sinema.
“The Rural Tribal Priority Window is an opportunity never before offered to tribes. We commend Chairman Pai and the Commission for making the 2.5 GHz spectrum available. It is long overdue and is a good step in the direction to address the broadband gap that exists and has existed in Indian Country for so long. It’s encouraging for tribes to know that they have this opportunity. However, the first step is to get the word out to all of Indian Country. Once the word is out, tribes must take the initiative to learn about the spectrum, determine if they are eligible, what they can do with the spectrum and if they are eligible, how to apply for it,” said Belinda Nelson, Chairwoman of Gila River Telecommunications, Inc.

Following Sinema’s letters to the FCC in June and October, the FCC announced it would open a 180-day priority window for tribal communities in Arizona to apply for licenses in the 2.5GHz band so they could have the opportunity to expand broadband deployment. The announcement of the priority window marks a unique opportunity for Tribes in Arizona to access allocated spectrum specifically for tribal communities.
As a strong advocate for rural broadband in the Senate Commerce Committee, Sinema introduced this year the bipartisan ACCESS Rural America Act that encourages private investment in rural broadband. In May 2019, Sinema applauded the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to invest in expanding broadband on the Havasupai Reservation, which provides Havasupai students access to critical educational services.
Tribal communities can find more information on how to apply for Educational Broadband Services licenses HERE