FCC Commissioner visits NTU in effort of improving broadband connectivity on the Navajo Nation
Crownpoint, NM – Stakeholders with a vested interest in broadband connectivity on the Navajo Nation came together at Navajo Technical University on August 10, 2016 as Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Mignon L. Clyburn held a roundtable discussion to collect input and challenges in expanding broadband access.
The visit was a part of a national Connecting Communities tour the FCC is conducting in meeting with rural and urban communities to hear their perspectives on the benefits and challenges of embracing 21st century communication services. During her trip to NTU, Commissioner Clyburn focused on examining the unique communication challenges facing the Navajo Nation.
“Good policy doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” stated Commissioner Clyburn, as she emphasized the importance of working with local communities in assessing their needs. “Good decision making, the best decision making, has to involve you. Has to involve all of us.”
“We need to make sure all the services and needs that the communities want and need and deserve, that they are able to have access to that,” continued Commissioner Clyburn, emphasizing the importance of affordable connectivity. “If your voices are not heard, than the best policy decision making will not happen.”
Commissioner Clyburn’s visit to the Navajo Nation began in Torreon, NM, where she discussed discounted phone services for qualified low-income consumers for purposes of health care and education. She then made her way to Crownpoint for the roundtable discussion and ended the visit with a trip to Crownpoint’s healthcare and correctional facilities. Senator Tom Udall and Congressman Ben Ray Luján helped coordinate the visit along with the Executive Director of the Navajo Nation’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Teresa Hopkins.
Stakeholders who participated in the roundtable discussion included: Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye; the Navajo Nation Washington D.C. Office; Navajo Tribal Utility Authority; Navajo Nation Emergency Medical Services; the Navajo Nation Police Department; and regional service providers like Sacred Winds Communications, Frontier Communications, and Cellular One. Concerns expressed during the discussion included problems extending infrastructure and laying fiber, right away issues, and regulations and policies that limit access.
Upon the completion of her Connecting Communities tour, Commissioner Clyburn will deliver a major policy speech this Fall where she will share her observations and outline the policies she has advanced during her term to connect communities with communication services.