Further Connecting California Tribal Communities

Marc Blakeman, President of AT&T California
October 17, 2023
Broadband Access and Affordability


Further Connecting California Tribal Communities

For California’s Tribal communities, connectivity matters now more than ever. Much like we are here, Tribal community leaders are also working to bridge the digital divide in their communities. And one way they’re making that happen is through collaboration with broadband providers, like AT&T.

Broadband is not just about internet access in Tribal communities. Having connectivity is about helping students do their schoolwork, seniors accessing healthcare and families connecting to the resources they need to succeed in our digital world.

Unfortunately, California’s Tribal communities often face obstacles when it comes to accessing broadband internet, including the fact that often Tribal lands are located in rural, sometimes densely forested and mountainous areas that can be sparsely populated. And access isn’t the only barrier Tribal communities face when it comes to broadband. For Tribal communities, affording a high-speed broadband internet connection is often a challenge as well.

Tribal leaders understand connectivity is a top priority for Tribal community members. Understanding the challenge, Tribal leaders across California are working with AT&T to bring broadband solutions to their communities.

Did you know?

 

California is home to one of the largest Native American populations in the United States. There are currently 109 federally recognized Indian tribes in California1 and according to the 2020 Census, more than 630,000 peopleidentifying as American Indian and Alaska Native live in California2.

To address the gaps in broadband access, affordability and adoption – and work to help close the digital divide – we began collaborating with Tribal communities in California. We took time to listen, understanding the challenges Tribal communities face and respecting the rules and processes that exist around their protected land.

See just a few ways we’ve been working to connect more Tribal communities in California:

Expanding Broadband Infrastructure: We’re collaborating with Tribal communities to bring AT&T Fiber to Tribal land.

  • The San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians announced a new project that will bring AT&T Fiber to 500 residential and small business locations on their Tribal land.
  • The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians have announced plans to work with AT&T to build broadband service to more than 400 homes on Rincon Tribal land.

Connecting to Digital Resources: AT&T has opened two Connected Learning Centers on California Tribal land. The Connected Learning Centers provide free internet access and education for Tribal families impacted by the digital divide.

  • AT&T opened its first AT&T Connected Learning Center on Tribal land in California and the nation at the Rincon Reservation in San Diego County.
  • The second Connected Learning Center on Tribal land is located at the Boys & Girls Club of Pinoleville Pomo Nation in Ukiah, CA.

Connectivity and Devices: A critical part of closing the digital divide is making sure students have access to affordable, reliable broadband and computers to participate in digital learning.

  • AT&T worked with Human-I-T to provide more than 500 laptops to five California Tribal communities to help students and families fully participate in our digital world.
  • AT&T is participating in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which aims to make broadband more affordable. The ACP offers a benefit of up to $75 monthly for households on Tribal lands toward fixed or mobile broadband to eligible households.

During the next few years, we will begin to see historic federal and state investments in broadband in California to expand infrastructure, address affordability, and promote digital literacy. It’s critical we continue to invest in California’s Tribal communities. This investment brings greater opportunity to our communities – from growing and developing Tribal talent, to connecting underserved populations to creating greater economic opportunity.

AT&T is honored to provide broadband connectivity to Tribal Nations in California and we’re excited to see how it’s already improving lives and creating opportunities in our Tribal communities.

1 https://www.courts.ca.gov/3066.htm

2 https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2021/08/17/2020-census-count-california-american-indians-more-accurate/8151037002/