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Telecommunications on Tribal Lands: Transitioning from Consumer to Regulator and Service Provider
Tribal Lands and Infrastructure

Infrastructure development on tribal land continues to lag behind the rest of the country. The remoteness of most reservations leads to greater costs for roads, housing, and all utilities including telecommunications. In order to address infrastructure needs, most tribes have developed organizational capacity to manage federally funded programs that enable improved access to transportation, increased housing, and water and wastewater services.

While there are federal programs to address electricity and telecommunications needs in rural areas including reservations, most tribes rely on co-operatives or telecommunication and electric companies for these services with no tribal regulations in place that address acceptable quality of service levels or rate making. Establishing regulations is a key element to correcting service issues on reservations.

Alternatively, tribal ownership of these systems supports business diversification goals, creates long term sustain-able jobs, and enables these tribal businesses to provide lifeline services to all entities that are a part of these communities…

Source: Minnesota Indian Business Alliance – Tribal Government Column – October 2009

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