FCC TAKES ACTION TO HELP STRENGTHEN AND EXPAND BROADBAND AND OTHER COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN NATIVE NATIONS
Federal Communications Commission
News Media Information 202 / 418-0500445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D. C. 20554
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:March 3, 2011 Dan Rumelt: 202-418-7512
FCC TAKES ACTION TO HELP STRENGTHEN AND EXPAND BROADBAND
AND OTHER COMMUNICATIONS SERVICES IN NATIVE NATIONSWashington, DC The FCC acted today on several regulatory items to strengthen and expand
communications services to Native Nations and their communities. The Commission held a Native
Nations Day as part of its open meeting with a renewed focus on initiatives that will help expand access
to vital communications, including broadband, wireless and radio services in these communities across
the United States. The meeting included public presentations from several Native Nation leaders, and
afternoon nation-to-nation consultation sessions.
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, "Technology touches every fabric of our society and all
Americans should have access to these essential services. Our actions will further empower Native
Nations to access and use the latest technologies to grow their businesses, increase their access to quality
health care and education, reach 9-1-1 during emergencies, and receive public alerts and warnings."
"We recognize that action is needed to strengthen and expand broadband and communications services in
Native communities," said Geoffrey Blackwell, Chief of the FCC's Office of Native Affairs and Policy.
"The Commission's actions will help cultivate partnerships among Native Nations, federal agencies, and
broadband and communications providers to deploy these vital services in Native communities. This is a
top priority for the Commission."
The items adopted by the Commission today include:
A Notice of Inquiry (NOI) on improving communications services for Native Nations that seeks
comment on a number of issues, including greater broadband deployment, the need for a uniform
definition of Tribal lands to be used agency-wide in rulemakings, and the importance of
strengthening the FCC's nation-to-nation consultation process with Native Nations.
A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on ways to expand the efficient use of spectrum over
Tribal lands so as to improve access to mobile wireless communications, which will provide
consumers with more choices on how they communicate, share information and get their news.
A Second Report and Order, First Order on Reconsideration, and a Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (FNPRM) that will help expand opportunities for Tribal entities to provide broadcast
radio services to Native communities.
Action by the Commission March 3, 2011, by NOI (FCC No. 11-30, CG Docket No. 11-41); NPRM
(FCC No. 11-29; WT Docket No.11-40); and Second Report and Order, First Order on Reconsideration
and FNPRM (FCC No. 11-28, MB Docket No. 09-52). Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners Copps,
McDowell, Clyburn and Baker. Separate statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners
Copps, McDowell, Clyburn and Baker.
- FCC -
Media Bureau --Tribal and Rural Radio Orders and an FNPRM:Tom Nessinger or Peter H. Doyle at
(202) 418-2700; TTY: (202) 418-7172. News Media Contact: Janice Wise at (202) 418-8165.
Wireless Telecommunications Bureau--
Native Nations Wireless Spectrum NPRM:Bill Huber at
(202) 418-2109; TTY: 1 (888) 835-5322. News Media Contact: Matt Nodine at (202) 418-1646.
Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau/Office of Native Affairs and Policy -- Improving
Communications Services for Native Nations NOI:
Bryant at (202) 418-8164; TTY: 1 (888) 835-5322. News Media Contact: Dan Rumelt at (202) 418-
SUMMARY OF ITEMS ADOPTED ON NATIVE NATIONS DAY
Improving Communications Services for Native Nations NOI
telephone penetration rate and the less than 10 percent broadband penetration rate on Tribal lands
nationwide. These rates lag far behind the country as a whole. The NOI also seeks information on
Hawaiian Home Lands. The NOI explores:
A Native Nations Priority for a wider array of communications services.
A new Native Nations Broadband Fund -- a National Broadband Plan recommendation -- to
support communications deployment-related priorities and needs in Native Nations.
Sustainable Native Nations deployment models and whether there are specific characteristics and
needs within Native Nations that would reveal potential best practices and/or successful
techniques for broadband adoption and utilization, as detailed in the National Broadband Plan.
An agency-wide, uniform definition of Tribal lands, inclusive of the many different types of lands
of Native Nations and Hawaiian Home Lands.
The Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) designation process on Tribal lands for
obtaining universal service support and the related consultative process with Native Nations.
Specific broadband-based opportunities to address the public safety and interoperability
challenges on Tribal lands, such as the broad lack of 911 and E-911 services.
How to increase efficiencies in the Commission's processes and best practices for cultural
preservation and the protection of Native sacred sites in communications tower reviews pursuant
to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Obstacles and specific cost, equipment, and market entry issues related to satellite-based
communications services for Native Nations.
Needs and challenges faced by persons with disabilities on Tribal lands and ways in which to
include Native persons with disabilities in all matters critical to providing access to broadband
and other communications services on Tribal lands.
Ways to create effective government-to-government consultation between the Commission and
Native Nations, specifically examining the ongoing dialogue needed to contribute to the growth
of the work between Native Nations and the Commission.
Native Nations Wireless Spectrum NPRM
greater use of spectrum over Tribal lands. The NPRM seeks comment on:
A proposal to expand the current broadcast Tribal Priority to create opportunities for access to
wireless radio services licenses not yet assigned.
A Native Nations originated proposal to create a secondary market negotiation process under
which Tribes could work with incumbent wireless licensees to bargain in good faith for access to
spectrum over unserved or underserved Tribal lands.
A Tribal proposal to employ an innovative process to utilize spectrum lying fallow under which
either the licensee or the Native Nation could build out facilities to provide service.
A proposal to provide incentives for licensees to deploy service to Tribal lands by enabling them
to use that deployment to help satisfy the construction requirements for licenses.
A proposal to improve the effectiveness of the Tribal lands bidding credit program, for example,
by extending the current 3-year construction deadline and the current 180-day deadline to obtain
necessary Native Nation government certification.
Tribal and Rural Radio Orders and FNPRM
radio service to Native communities, and modifies certain procedures for the allotment of broadcast radio
channels in order to ensure a fair distribution of radio licenses to rural areas and smaller communities as
well as urban areas. Last year, the Commission adopted a Tribal Priority that gave precedence to
federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages seeking to initiate needed radio
service covering reservations and other Tribal lands. While there are over 565 Native Nations, many do
not possess Tribal lands. Because the Tribal Priority currently requires coverage of Tribal lands, Native
Nations without these lands cannot qualify for the priority. Today's order encourages those Native
Nations to seek waivers of the Tribal lands coverage provisions of the Tribal Priority. Specifically, the
Adopted a policy for waiving certain requirements in the Tribal Priority in order to allow non-
landed Tribes to take advantage of the Tribal Priority to provide radio broadcast services to
Adopted an alternative coverage standard to allow Tribes with small or irregularly shaped lands
to take advantage of the Tribal Priority to provide radio broadcast service to their Native
Modified its procedures for determining which communities should receive priority in the award
of new or relocated broadcast radio service. These modifications are designed to ensure a fair
distribution of radio service to small, less well-served communities and rural areas as well as
Seeks comment on whether the Commission should require, as a threshold qualification to apply
for a commercial FM channel allotted pursuant to the Tribal Priority, that an applicant qualify for
the Tribal Priority for that channel, as well as seeking further comment on the Tribal Bidding
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