U.S. Senate Committee Approves Native Broadband Bill

Nov 19, 2020

Sen. Maria Cantwell [D-Washington] spoke Wednesday in support of a bill that would improve broadband access in Indian country.

A bill that would help Native American communities get more broadband access on reservation lands was approved by the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee Wednesday.

An FCC survey found that 31% of households on tribal lands lack access to high speed broadband, compared to 7% of Americans in non-tribal areas.

At a hearing Wednesday, Sen. Maria Cantwell [D-Washington] spoke about the impact some Washington tribes have experienced because of the lack of service.

“For the Colville Tribe in north central Washington, many of the households don't have access to the Internet. This means many of them don't have access to emergency service notifications," Cantwell said.

"Connectivity is critically important during fire season, especially this year when fires have forced evacuations from homes and businesses. It's absolutely unacceptable that many tribes in Washington do not have access to basic reliable broadband.”

Cantwell co-sponsored the legislation. It would require technical assistance be provided to underserved Native communities. It would also set aside federal funds for deploy broadband on tribal lands.

The bill passed on a bipartisan voice vote Wednesday and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.