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The digital divide in Tribal regions is considerable, as geographically dispersed communities acutely feel the need for digital services. With the reopening of the 2.5 GHz spectrum by the government and availability of federal funding in recent years, Native communities have a renewed interest in building their own broadband network.
The Need for Enhanced Connectivity in Native Communities
The demand for networks owned by Native communities has grown recently for a number of reasons, most notably the shift to remote education necessitated by the shuttering of schools during the pandemic. But there was a trend even before the pandemic to provide services online that were typically performed in person, services such as doctor visits and buying a car, as well as the request to connect home-based businesses to the Internet in order to open new markets. As the demand for safe, reliable, high-speed internet increases, local leaders are collaborating with government funding agencies and wireless solution providers to deploy technologies customized for their communities. And private wireless networks are a great option.
FCC Requirements for Private Network Buildout
The FCC in 2020 announced that federally recognized American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native villages could obtain unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum over their lands. To date, the Bureau has granted 335 licenses to Tribes, Alaskan Villages, consortia, and tribally owned and controlled entities representing more than 350 unique Tribes in 30 states. As a condition of the license grant, the FCC has strict buildout requirements that must be met within four years (interim) and eight years (final) to deploy a private network.
- Mobile or Point-to-Multipoint Service
- Within four years, licensee must demonstrate reliable signal coverage of 50% of population within service area; and
- Within eight years, licensee must demonstrate reliable signal coverage of 80% of population within service area
- Fixed Point-to-Point Service
- Within four years, licensee must demonstrate operation of one link for each 50,000 persons in service area; and
- Within eight years, licensee must demonstrate operation of one link for each 25,000 persons in service area
- Failure to satisfy the interim requirement shortens the deadline for the final requirement to four years from date of license agreement
- Failure to satisfy the final requirement results in automatic termination of license
Choosing an Experienced Partner
Designing and building a private network can be particularly challenging by itself, but adding the FCC timeline requirements compound the level of complexity, even for highly skilled technical teams. It’s vital to ensure the design meets the communities needs for future scalability, and the installation of equipment stays on time and on budget, which is why choosing the right vendor is a critical step in the process. Look for a partner that has these characteristics:
- Extensive experience. They should walk through every step of the process to create a custom solution that addresses the needs of your community
- End-to-end solution. An in-depth consultation should lead to a detailed blueprint of hardware, software, network elements, and services needed to deploy a successful project
- Industry-leading installation and post-sale support. They should partner with proven deployment teams to confirm the installation is technically correct and adheres to the original design spec. They should also assign a dedicated account manager and provide Tiers 1 and 2 support*
As a leading provider of wireless solutions for 20 years, Kajeet has extensive experience in designing, building, and managing private wireless networks. We have a team of experts who will work with you to assess your specific needs and develop a customized solution to meet your goals. Our equipment partners can scale any size project, ensuring your network meets performance expectations, can support future growth, and meets FCC buildout requirements.
Choosing an experienced vendor eliminates the risk of deploying a poorly designed network, as well as the risk of lost time and money due to rework.
*Charges may apply for Kajeet Private Wireless Network deployment