Improving Communications Services for Native Nations by Promoting Greater Utilization of Spectrum over Tribal Lands
Historically, members of federally-recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages (“Tribes”) and other residents of Tribal lands have lacked meaningful access to wired and wireless communications services. This remains true today. In particular, many Tribes suffer the effects of limited availability of wireless services on Tribal lands. Greater access to wireless services would offer members of Tribes and others on Tribal lands significant economic opportunities and increased social benefits. Despite the Commission’s existing programs that seek to promote the deployment of both wireless and wireline communications services on Tribal lands, we believe that additional steps are necessary to encourage the further deployment and use of spectrum for Wireless Radio Services over Tribal lands. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Notice”) therefore seeks comment on a range of specific proposals and issues with the objective of promoting greater use of spectrum over Tribal lands.
Many of the proposals discussed in this Notice are the product of efforts by the Commission and tribes around the country to consult on communications issues. Such efforts have been undertaken in accordance with the trust responsibility of the federal government to, and its government-to-government relationship with, federally-recognized Tribes and Alaska Native Villages. The Commission has long been committed to promoting the government-to-government relationship between the Commission and federally-recognized Tribes. In the course of that ongoing dialogue, Tribes and their representatives have expressed views on communications and spectrum-related problems in Tribal lands and have proposed possible solutions. Drawing upon that record, we consider a number of those spectrum-related proposals in this Notice.