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September 20 @ 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm EDT
Broadband network connectivity has been a critical—sometimes the only—means of providing essential services like health care and education and keeping commerce rolling during the COVID-19 crisis. Yet, the share of households on tribal lands with internet access is 21% lower than in neighboring non-tribal areas. In addition, download speeds are approximately 75% slower in tribal regions than in non-tribal areas, while the price for basic internet services in tribal areas is 11% higher.
Similarly, in 2019, the Pew Research Center found that only 63% of rural Americans have internet access at home. Providing internet access in urban areas is easy because there are numerous service providers, fiber connections and cable internet. Expanding internet access for rural areas is a different story. Among the rural-specific challenges that internet service providers need to overcome are physical barriers (trees, hills, etc.) and cost-effectiveness.