How to Choose a Vendor for Your Tribal Broadband Project 

The Importance of High-Speed Connectivity 

There's no denying that reliable, high-speed Internet connectivity is essential for economic growth, education, healthcare, and overall social well-being in any community. With the considerable digital divide in Tribal Regions, the U.S. Government’s investment in broadband projects in communities that are underserved by traditional communications providers is critical.    

In the past few years, the Federal Government has allocated substantial funding and even awarded licenses for unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum over Tribal Lands, allowing communities for the first time to bring broadband service to each home, business, and community gathering spot.  

As with any technical project, it’s important to choose broadband partners who not only have the technical expertise required to deploy the project, but also a deep understanding of the community and the flexibility to meet their goals. 

Choosing the Right Communications Partner 

For your Tribal broadband project to be successful, it’s critical to ensure you select an ‘A-team’ to assist you along the journey.  

Here are some of the top factors to consider as you evaluate potential partners: 

  • Prior Experience with Tribal Projects: Working with a vendor experienced in completing projects in tribal communities can be very advantageous. Tribal projects often have unique cultural, environmental, and logistical considerations that require specialized expertise and sensitivity. A vendor with a proven track record in this context is more likely to understand and address these specific requirements effectively.
  • Technical Expertise and Innovation: Look for a vendor that demonstrates deep technical expertise in broadband infrastructure deployment. From wireless to fiber to neutral host networks, there are many technologies that work together to best meet the needs of your community. A partner that stays up to date with the latest advancements in connectivity technologies will have the knowledge and capability to design and implement a custom, future-proof solution for you.
  • Project Ownership: Broadband projects involve various stages, from environmental studies to post-installation management. A reliable partner will take complete ownership of the project, ensuring that all aspects are handled efficiently. 
  • Flexibility: A capable vendor will possess the agility and innovation to meet your unique needs and requirements and overcome obstacles. Flexibility in designing and implementing broadband solutions tailored to your specific circumstances is crucial for a successful project.
  • Track Record and References: Assess the vendor's past performance by reviewing their portfolio of completed projects. Request references from previous clients and speak with them to gain insights into the vendor's reliability, quality of work, and ability to meet deadlines.
  • Strong Communication and Collaboration: Effective communication and collaboration are vital for successful project execution. Ensure that the vendor prioritizes listening to your unique needs, engaging in open dialogue, and providing transparent progress updates throughout the project lifecycle. 

Finding a vendor that meets all of these requirements will give you the best chance of success in your Tribal broadband project. 

Learn why the Apache Tribe of Oklahoma chose to work with Kajeet on their private wireless network deployment 

Success Story: Nebraska Indian Community College 

Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC) is dedicated to bringing state-of-the art facilities and programs to students. Established in 1973, NICC was created to provide post-secondary education to residents on the Omaha, Santee Sioux, and Winnebago reservations. Today, the institution is accredited at the associate degree granting level, with three campuses located in Northeast Nebraska. Most of its students are low-income, and many have children or work full-time jobs outside of their schoolwork. 

Like many Tribal Lands, the college operates in rural areas where reliable broadband doesn’t exist. NICC decided to use the 2.5 GHz broadband spectrum they were granted access to on an Education Broadband Service (EBS) license to provide high-speed Internet to their students.  

When the college connected with Kajeet, a leading managed IoT connectivity and private wireless network provider, it was clear this was the right partnership for their project. The Kajeet and NICC teams worked together to map out the geography of the college’s campuses, identifying places where broadband infrastructure could be placed. Next, Kajeet created a custom, private LTE network by installing base stations on each campus. Once this infrastructure was complete, NICC deployed a variety of connected devices to students, enabling them to complete their assignments and access learning while at home, at work, or on-the-go. 

Through this partnership, NICC was able to meet their objective of enriching students’ learning experience through mobile connectivity and have plans to expand their private wireless network offering. 

Michael Oltrogge, NICC President, shared:  

“Kajeet was able to work with NICC to identify our needs. The Kajeet engineering team continues great customer service and delivers customized design that meets the unique needs of our NICC Campus and tribal community. We continue to choose Kajeet Private 5G for their cost effectiveness, their easy and rapid deployment capability to ensure our students have the most robust internet connection with an economical communications solution. Through the partnership of Kajeet Private 5G, NICC has truly been able to ‘connect the unconnected’ with an economical and reliable communications solution.” 

Final Thoughts 

 A well-qualified and experienced vendor will possess the necessary technical expertise, flexibility, and commitment to ensure your project's success. By considering factors such as prior experience with projects deployed for Tribal Communities, technical capabilities, and communication skills, you can minimize risks, maximize the project's potential, and bring reliable broadband connectivity to your community -- and Kajeet is experienced in providing private wireless network solutions to Tribal nations.