Tribal Lands and the Loss of the ACP

Deploy a Private Wireless Network on Tribal Lands to Address the Loss of the Affordable Connectivity Program


With the end of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in May, internet users across the United States are losing vital connectivity they rely on for things like off-campus learning, doctor visits, and the ability to sell their products online. This two-year-old program was instrumental in providing internet access to underserved populations, including those on Tribal lands. Many ACP recipients in these areas benefited from up to $75 a month, or $900 per year, to defray the high cost of internet. The conclusion of this program raises concerns about the potential impacts on these users, particularly from an economic, educational, healthcare, and employment perspective.

Economic Loss

The cessation of the ACP will undoubtedly lead to a notable economic impact on program recipients who use the internet to conduct online business. Many individuals and families have leveraged the internet to operate home-based businesses, offering goods and services that contribute to their local economies. Without affordable internet access, these entrepreneurs may struggle to maintain their operations, resulting in a loss of income and economic vitality. Additionally, the ability to purchase less expensive goods online—a critical advantage for communities often located far from major retail centers—will be significantly hampered.

Educational Resources

For both students and adults, the internet has opened educational opportunities without geographic constraints. Students rely on it for access to online courses, research, and virtual classrooms, while adults use it for continuing education and skill development. The loss of affordable internet access threatens to widen the educational divide, leaving many without the resources needed to succeed academically and professionally. This could have long-term implications for the community's overall educational attainment and job readiness.

Telehealth Resources

Telehealth.1Telehealth has become an essential component of healthcare, particularly in remote and rural areas where medical facilities are sparse. The ACP's support has enabled people on Tribal lands to access telehealth services, ensuring they receive timely medical consultations and care. The termination of this program will likely result in reduced access to healthcare, exacerbating health disparities and placing additional strain on already limited healthcare resources.

Remote Work Opportunities

The rise of remote work has provided new employment opportunities for individuals in remote areas. Reliable internet access has allowed many to engage in remote jobs, contributing to their household income and financial stability. The end of the ACP could limit these opportunities, forcing many to either relocate or forego remote work possibilities, thereby reducing their employment options and economic independence.

Private Wireless Networks as a Solution

A private wireless network is a broadband network that is owned by the community it serves. Unlike government-funded subsidies that are subject to change, a private network offers a reliable and secure solution that can be offered to all residents in the community. These networks are tailored to meet the specific needs of the group, ensuring high-speed, affordable internet access for all residents. By deploying their own broadband infrastructure, Native Nations can eliminate the uncertainty of external funding and create a lasting resource that supports their community now and into the future.

How to Fund a Private Wireless Network

Since the program began in 2021, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded $1.86 billion to 226 Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian groups under the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). The program seeks to improve quality of life by expanding broadband access to all residents in the community. Applications for the second round of funding that will make approximately $980 million available are now being considered, with award announcements expected this year.

The Importance of Choosing the Right Private Wireless Network Partner

Choosing the wrong vendor for a Private Wireless Network project can cause expensive delays, re-work or even worse, a network that doesn’t meet the needs of the community. Here are the top factors to consider when evaluating potential partners:

  • Prior Experience with Native Nation Projects. Working with a vendor experienced in completing private wireless projects on Tribal lands is advantageous because they understand the unique cultural, environmental, and logistical considerations that require specialized expertise and sensitivity.
  • Technical Expertise and Innovation. Look for a vendor that demonstrates deep technical knowledge 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 each community. A partner that stays up to date with the latest advancements will have the knowledge and capability to design and implement a custom, future-proof solution.
  • Project Ownership: Broadband projects involve many stages including environmental studies, design work, deployment, and post-installation management. A reliable partner will work closely with the customer to ensure all aspects of the project are completed in a timely manner and built to spec.
  • Track Record and References. Assess the vendor's past performance by reviewing their portfolio of completed private wireless projects on Tribal lands. 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.

Download this free guide to learn more about deploying a Private Wireless Network on Tribal lands:


Learn More About Kajeet

Although the loss of ACP funding is a set-back for many internet users, leaders in Native Nation communities may have a unique opportunity to combine NTIA funding with a Private Wireless Network solution that could provide residents with reliable, secure, high-speed internet now and into the future. But it’s important to choose an experienced vendor with the necessary technical expertise, and the commitment to ensure the project is a success. To learn more about Kajeet Private Wireless for Native Nations, please visit our Native Nations Connectivity page. 

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