U.S. Senator Tom Udall and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján announced that the Federal Communications Commission will award over $5.1 million to support mobile broadband service in areas of the Navajo Nation and Picuris Pueblo lacking wireless coverage. Through a reverse auction bidding process designed to maximize the expansion of wireless coverage, the FCC allocated a total of $5,149,628 to Smith Bagley, Inc. and Commnet Wireless, LLC for mobile broadband service at Picuris Pueblo in Taos County and on the Navajo Nation, which spans New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Of the total award, more than $2 million will support wireless deployment over the next three years to 2,096 people living in New Mexico.
The FCC created the Tribal Mobility Fund as part of its reform of the Universal Service Fund. Through the initial phase of the fund, the FCC awarded a total of $49.8 million in one-time support to companies across five states that agreed to build 3G or 4G mobile broadband networks for currently underserved Tribal lands.
Both Udall and Luján have strongly supported the expansion of broadband and wireless technology to Tribal and rural communities to help spur the growth of businesses and increase educational opportunities.
“Wireless coverage not only keeps us connected but can truly save lives during an emergency, ” Udall said. “Wireless service in Tribal communities is vital for safety and security and to connect people and businesses around the world. This FCC action is a positive step forward, and as a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’ll keep working until every New Mexican has access to high-speed Internet and wireless service.”
“In this digital age, access to wireless service is becoming more and more important,” Luján said. “Wireless service not only connects families and friends and improves the safety and security of communities, it connects them to opportunities that would otherwise be closed off. This award by the FCC is a welcome step forward, and these funds for tribal communities are essential to promoting economic growth. We must continue our efforts to bring wireless service to every corner of New Mexico.”