Native nations with scarce internet are building their own broadband networks

On the Hopi Reservation’s more than 1.5 million acres of desert landscape in northeast Arizona, most residents live in villages atop arid mesas. Below ground, there’s a network of copper wires that provides telephone and internet service. In 2004, Hopi Telecommunications bought the company that had installed them, but has been struggling ever since to upgrade the network to broadband speeds. Hopi Telecommunications serves both the Hopi reservation and parts of the surrounding Navajo Nation. Native nations historically have lagged in access to high-speed internet, because of the cost and incomplete broadband coverage data, among other barriers. The inequity became even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, when broadband internet service was a crucial lifeline for people stuck in their homes. So, some Native nations such as the Hopi are taking the matter into their own hands by building their own networks to provide high-speed internet. 

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