Group conducting survey on internet access, cellular service on Navajo Nation
FARMINGTON — Residents on the Navajo Nation are being asked to fill out a survey about internet access and cellular service on tribal land.
The Navajo Cyber Team, an ad hoc group comprised of tribal government employees and technology professionals, and consultants from Magellan Advisors are conducting the survey and will use responses to develop a broadband strategic plan for the Navajo Nation.
"It's something that is needed. It's considered a utility just like water, sewer and electricity," Vernon Livingston, a member of the Navajo Cyber Team, said about increasing broadband internet service.
By improving the digital infrastructure, the tribe can increase employment, small business opportunities and educational opportunities, reduce costs to connectivity and offer services like telemedicine, team members said.
Courtney Violette, chief operating officer for Magellan Advisors, said the goal is to design a network capable of delivering a minimum of 25 megabits per second to every person on the Navajo Nation.
To qualify for federal funding for rural high-speed broadband projects, the proposal must provide a minimum of 25 megabits per second, he said.
The Federal Communications Commission's definition for broadband is a minimum of 25 megabits download and three megabits upload.
The survey is online under the "Navajo Nation survey broadband and cellular service survey" tab on the Navajo Nation website, navajo-nsn.gov.
Team members request that surveys be done online because it has an internet speed test to check the speed and quality of the internet connection.
There are paper surveys at chapter houses, but due to public health concerns about the coronavirus, access to the facilities is restricted.
The deadline to complete surveys is the first week in April.
In January, the Navajo Nation partnered with Magellan Advisors, a consulting company in Denver, to develop a broadband plan for the reservation.
Violette explained the company is familiar with the challenge to bring broadband services to remote and rural areas, having worked on projects on the Aleutian Islands in Alaska and the Matawa First Nations in northern Ontario in Canada.
Team members visited 10 communities this month to hear from community members about current broadband and cellular services.
The group would like to have the broadband strategic plan completed in September.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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