For many months I have been sharing my thoughts on various happenings in technology and telecommunications. By now, I think we can all agree broadband is crucial for increased health, educational and economic opportunities, as well as for job and business creation and growth. Broadband can help close the digital divide between rural and urban communities.
Last month I discussed some federal programs specifically for technology and telecommunications infrastructure, the Universal Service Programs and the Rural Utilities Programs which are only a small example of the possibilities.
This month I want to point out that many other sources of funding can and will cover telecom infrastructure projects. Remember that roads, buildings, and housing projects all require a master telecommunications component and plan. Smart tribal leaders make sure they have a comprehensive economic development strategy (CEDS) plan that includes this and dollars from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will become eligible for these projects. Make sure that planning is implementing and monitoring dig once for new utilities including fiber in the trench when it is open and on new commercial buildings and residential projects make sure they are being wired with fiber capabilities.
Another thought that comes to mind when I think about infrastructure growth and improvements on Native lands is to really have a documented, known and well-executed processes for all types of project applications. Many Tribes and Nations are finding that long-term easements and right aways are expiring in the next two or three years and need to have a strong renewal and negotiation strategy. Many I talk to were not happy with the current terms and did not have control over their inception and now issues that have arisen can be rectified. One example is that with large, sometimes nation telecom providers that have fiber traversing your land it’s important that you have no or low-cost use of the assets for your own tribal needs.
If these kinds of initiatives are on your mind, please feel free to contact me and I will do my best to connect you to an industry expert that can assist with your roadmap to prosperity where it relates to your land use and telecommunications infrastructure.
This editorial was written for and published in the Tribal Business Journal, August 2018 issue.