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Access to affordable telecommunications services is vital in Native American communities. Only 67% of American Indians have telephone service in their homes; however, among some tribes, such as the Navajo Nation, it is only 39%. Native American communities have a keen interest in debates over policies that place limits on the ability of tribal governments to determine their respective telecommunications destinies. Native communities are equally concerned about policies that might significantly increase local phone bills and reduce universal service funding. 

Indian communities have recognized that access to telecommunications and information technology are important to their communities.  The Benton Foundation report, “Native Networking: Telecommunications and Information Technology in Indian Country,” assesses the use of telecommunications and information technology in among Native Americans on tribal lands. It includes information on funding and assistance, Native American technology and telecommunications projects, Native-owned businesses, and telecommunications and technology organizations that are Native-owned or Native-focused.

Native Americans have successfully advocated for federal policies that recognize the unique barriers to affordable access to telecommunications service in their communities. One such program addressing the particular needs of Native Americans is the FCC's Enhanced Lifeline and Link-Up for Tribal Lands program, which offers additional discounts for qualifying consumers living on Tribal Lands.

For more information consider the Native Networking Policy Center (NNPC), a non-profit organization whose mission is to ensure equitable and affordable access to, and the culturally appropriate use of, telecommunications and information technology throughout Indian Country. NNPC works to ensure that Native American interests are included in the development and promotion of policies on all levels of government to improve and increase the deployment and use of telecommunications and information technology throughout Indian country.

 

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