Report on Internet use in Native American communities shows huge broadband gap

The New America Foundation has published a report on broadband penetration and Internet use among Native American communities. As you might imagine, people who live on Indian lands have hardly any options when it comes to broadband, i.e. the vast majority don’t even have it. Where wireless broadband is available, it’s too expensive. But, until you read this report, you won’t realize just how dire the situation is. Download New Media, Technology and Internet Use in Indian Country: Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses, a two-part report that includes a survey of Native American technology use normed against other national surveys, and case studies of six successful projects.

“I’ve visited Native communities where Internet black holes exist because broadband deployment either ignored them or simply went around them. For the first time in history, we have solid broadband data that underscores the fact that Native Americans are using the Internet when they have access to it and building their own tribal centric broadband highways when no one else will.  This report is timely and catapults the needs of Native Americans into the national policy making process as the FCC develops a data focused and comprehensive National Broadband Plan.”

“Our exploratory analyses defy the often-held stereotypes of limited new media and broadband use amongst Native Americans.  We found a dramatic uptake of these technologies amongst tribal members,” explained Sascha Meinrath, Director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative.

“Overall, survey participants were extremely tech savvy, utilizing digital multimedia and communications at rates that are much higher than national norms,” concludes Traci Morris, Policy and Program Analyst for Native Public Media.

I hope that this report gets everyone thinking not just about broadband availability in Native American communities, but in rural communities in general, which have been left behind because the national policy to date has been to leave everything to the “free” market (we know it’s anything but a free market). I am awaiting the NTIA’s and RUS’s decisions on who gets BTOP/BIP funding.

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