The Hopi Indian tribe has been battling for decades to secure access to modern telecommunications networks and other communications, but a new report from the Federal Communications Commission suggests that the Hopis are moving in the wrong direction.
In its 2015 Broadband Future report, the FCC said the Hopistans were “currently facing significant challenges” in securing broadband service.
The Hopi have been fighting for years to secure broadband access for the tribe, which spans more than 100 square miles and is home to some of the largest tribes in the U.S. and Canada.
Hopi tribal officials say they face significant barriers in accessing networks such as fiber-optic cables and cellular towers that could significantly impact their ability to use traditional land-based telecommunications.
In the past, the Hopies have fought to expand telecommunications access to their land, arguing that federal authorities overstepped their authority in a 2011 decision that struck down a Hopi reservation plan that was approved by tribal members.
But the FCC report says the Hopivans’ lack of a strong broadband policy could make it more difficult for them to compete for broadband service with other tribes.
The FCC report notes that the majority of Hopi tribes have been unable to provide broadband service since 2012.
In 2014, the agency said the tribal broadband plan “may not have achieved full service coverage” and that “the tribal broadband program was never fully implemented.”
In 2015, the commission said the tribe was still unable to fully deploy its broadband program, which includes broadband access to tribal housing.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Pai said the FCC’s report was a good reminder that tribal broadband needs to be a priority for tribal broadband providers.
“I would say that we have to do everything that we can to keep them up and running,” Pai said.
“That’s why we’re working with the Hopipas.”
The FCC also said in its report that it’s working with state and local government officials and tribes to make sure tribal broadband access is not jeopardized by network congestion or a lack of access to broadband providers or wireless services.