Maine senator looks to expand tribal broadband access

May 9, 2021 GMT

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) — Maine’s independent senator has co-sponsored a proposal to give Native American tribes more time to meet requirements to expand broadband on their lands.

Sen. Angus King said the Extending Tribal Broadband Priority Act of 2021 would give the tribal nations and native Hawaii organizations more time to apply for spectrum licenses for unassigned spectrum over their lands. King said that is a pivotal step to growing broadband.

The Federal Communication Commission gave the tribes the opportunity to apply for the licenses in 2019. The application window closed in September 2020.

King said his proposal would require the FCC to open another window that would last for at least 180 days. He said that would give the tribal nations, which are contending with difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, adequate time.

The connection rate to fixed broadband services for Americans who live on trial lands is 65%, compared to 92% for Americans who don’t live on tribal lands, King said.