JUNEAU, AK (December 17, 2021) – The Central Council of the Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s (Tlingit & Haida) plan to improve broadband in Southeast Alaska is one step closer. Following the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) formal acceptance of the Tribe’s 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window application in August, it has issued a broadband license to the Tribe.
The granted FCC license provides exclusive use of prime mid-band spectrum to increase broadband access in rural communities. That means bringing improved internet to about 10,000 people in Southeast Alaska who currently have no access or limited options in their area.
Funding has already been secured by Tlingit & Haida’s newly named broadband enterprise, Tidal Network, to begin a pilot project in Wrangell, Alaska, which is part of Tlingit & Haida's 2.5 GHz broadband award and has the largest underserved population. In partnership with Wrangell Cooperative Association, the project will focus on extending fixed wireless internet service to provide last-mile delivery of broadband services and is expected to begin this spring.
Earlier this year, Tlingit & Haida gathered responses from two broadband surveys that underscored the critical need for better broadband in rural Southeast Alaska communities. Too many communities still lack the connectivity needed to access healthcare, education, remote employment opportunities and business resources.
“The bottom line and sole focus of the work we are doing under Tidal Network is to ensure reliable internet to our underserved rural communities in Southeast Alaska,” said Chief Development Officer Will Ware.
Since 2019, Tlingit & Haida has been working in partnership with Southeast Alaska village tribes to secure the mid-band spectrum licenses. Over the course of this last year, community visits have been conducted with Southeast Alaska village tribes to discuss the Tribe’s broadband initiative and opportunities to partner for the broadband project.
To date, 292 applications have been granted through the FCC Rural Tribal Priority Window, including 99 applications from Alaska tribes. In addition to Tlingit & Haida, Yakutat Tlingit Tribe, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Hydaburg Cooperative Association and Organized Village of Saxman have also been granted a license.
“We are committed to helping our communities secure the high-speed internet access they deserve,” said President Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson. “The disparity and lack of reliable internet in our rural communities is apparent and it’s critical our villages are not left behind in this digital age. I want to thank Second Vice President Will Micklin for his many years of advocacy and work to get better broadband access communities."