Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley said today that five Oregon Tribes have secured spectrum licenses from federal regulators that will help to close the digital divide by providing Tribes with expanded access to broadband and other advanced wireless services.
The good news for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Coquille Indian Tribe, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs follows work by Wyden and Merkley to address the digital divide hurting Tribes and to provide them every opportunity to expand broadband access in Oregon and nationally.
“Tribal members throughout rural Oregon need this modern wireless broadband access for a quality of life that includes top-notch connectivity to telehealth, classroom instruction and work opportunities,” Wyden said. “I’m glad we have advanced broadband equity for tribal communities, and I will continue fighting to provide full broadband access and address all other historic inequities this country has inflicted for far too long on Tribes in our state and nationwide.”
“The federal government has a long history of morally reprehensible action against tribal nations, and we have a responsibility to turn the page and do everything we can to support these communities,” said Merkley. “That must include making sure they have access to the resources—like reliable, affordable broadband—communities need to thrive and be healthy. I’m pleased this funding is making its way to these tribes, helping to make remote school and work more accessible, and putting telehealth services within reach at a time when it’s needed the most.”
The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Coquille Indian Tribe, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are recipients of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) first set of spectrum licenses through the agency’s first-of-its-kind Rural Tribal Priority Window.
The 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window gave Tribes an opportunity to apply for unassigned spectrum over their lands that is mid-band and can be used for both mobile coverage and 5G broadband access.
“CTUIR has wanted reliable internet for several years,” said Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Chair Kat Brigham. “The tribe is now one step closer to moving forward in developing a broadband infrastructure to help our families, students and employees who now really need it as an essential tool through the COVID-19 pandemic.”