The Government Accountability Office (GAO) on September 7, 2018 released a report where they found that the Federal Communications Commission’s data “does not accurately or completely capture broadband access on tribal lands…” The report further states that that possible overstatements could limit the FCC’s ability to target broadband funding to tribal lands.
The FCC’s E-rate program provides broadband connections to schools and libraries and includes tribal areas. The FCC instituted a tribal E-rate training program whose goal is to reduce the digital divide at native schools and libraries. The U.S. Department of Interior in FY 2018 applied on behalf of 80 tribal schools and their Form 471 application was approved on August 24, 2018 for $11.7 million. There are additional tribal schools and libraries that apply independently of this large E-rate application as well. While the GAO Broadband Tribal Report did not focus on schools and libraries in Tribal lands, it is positive news that these institutions will receive support for their high-speed broadband connections for FY 2018.
The GAO Broadband Tribal Report can be viewed here.