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As we mentioned in our previous edition of CEO’s Corner, “What Is TribeXchange,” CEO Andrew Metcalfe sees Native Network’s professional and consulting services as a way to give back to…
CEO’s Corner: Bridging the “Digital Divide”

As we mentioned in our previous edition of CEO’s Corner, “What Is TribeXchange,” CEO Andrew Metcalfe sees Native Network’s professional and consulting services as a way to give back to the Native community by helping them “bridge the ‘digital divide'”. Having access to high-speed data services is the foundation needed to connect Native communities and reservations both to other tribes and to the general population.

But how, specifically, will access to fiber services benefit a tribe? Here are three examples:

Modern medical services – From electronic record keeping to telemedicine, modern medical services rely heavily on the digital transfer of high-bandwidth information. With high-speed data access, doctors both on and off reservation can serve patients at locations that wouldn’t be feasible otherwise. Imagine a specialist from across the country being able to provide a remote consult — or even operate remotely — bringing state-of-the-art medical procedures to a clinic on reservation.

Education – Increasingly, both secondary and higher education institutions are turning to online classrooms to augment, and even replace, traditional classroom learning. While there will always be a place for in-person education, telecourses bring a world of learning experiences to places that could not otherwise have access. Modern virtual classrooms require high-speed bandwith for features live and recorded video feeds and online curriculum management systems. By providing sufficient bandwidth, a tribal member can have access to everything from technical training to advanced degrees in specialized fields.

Jobs – Access to data services opens a whole new world of job opportunities on reservation. Tribes or outside contractors can create call centers to provide outsourced technical or customer support for corporations. These centers can generate consistent, living-wage jobs for tribal members. Data centers that rely on high-speed networks can provide a stable, environmentally friendly stream of revenue. And high-speed networks provide limitless opportunities for tribal entrepreneurs to run small businesses, giving them access to buy and sell products and services through e-commerce platforms both to other tribes and to the population at large.

To provide data services that support these services, tribal communities not only need a high-speed fiber backbone, but also means to distribute telecommunication services to their constituents. Native Network can help solve this problem by designing a modern distribution network that leverages existing distribution networks, such as cooper wire through DSL services, along with newer technologies, such as fiber connections to homes and businesses, and high-speed cellular and other wireless technologies for more remote locations. We can also help tribes secure the funding to deploy these projects, whether it’s through allocating funds within the tribe or securing outside funding through government assistance programs.

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