I’m rarely on location for a story like this – but today I just happen to be on the Fond du Lac reservation talking to folks about digital literacy training. So it was fun to read about plans to work on access as well as adoption on the Northland News Center website…
The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has set its sights on a five-year, multi-million dollar economic development strategy that covers everything from education to infrastructure.
Developing a Community Economic Development Strategy is a requirement of the tribal government every five years.
Broadband infrastructure features highly in the plan…
Arguably the highest priority, says Hollinday, is an $8-million dollar high speed internet development project.
“In order to make that sustainable, or to break even, I think we need 40% of the households on the Reservation to purchase that from the company itself,” said Hollinday.
“We have to develop ways to earn the revenue, otherwise we’re reliant on grants, and that’s not healthy,” said Karen Diver, Tribal Chairwoman.
Tribal Chairwoman Karen Diver says projects like bringing high speed internet to Reservation homes serve the tribe’s economic and community goals.
“It affects your access to do economic development, promote entrepreneurship, education for our kids, um, distance learning, distance medicine, um, so that’s been identified as a high priority by the tribal council,” said Diver.
Tribal leaders say projects will be addressed financially through a variety of options, including grant money and third party revenue.
The reservation already has Gig access to local businesses and the tribal buildings – but FTTH will be a game changer. I’ve been lucky enough to spend time up here over the last few months. Folks around here will make good use of broadband. I’ve met a number of people who are very entrepreneurial. Several have started businesses and are running them on their smartphones; others are heading to the computer centers to build and update their websites. Access from their homes would make it so much easier to succeed with their businesses.
Education will also be easier. I’ve talked to some parents and grandparents who know their kids are missing out with limited access at home. Yes there are computers available at the libraries and tribal center – but access at home is so much easier – for students and guardians! I’ve also met a number of people who are interested in lifelong learning; some on their own via instruction videos and some are attending formal accredited schools remotely. Again FTTH will make it easier for lifelong learners to learn on their own time – after work, after kids have gone to bed, when they have spare moments.