- By Chez Oxendine
- Economic Development
Pine Ridge, Oklahoma
Award Amount: $49,679,250.00
Project Summary: The Broadband Infrastructure Deployment project proposes to install fiber and construct wireless towers to directly connect 3,158 unserved Native American households with fiber-to-the-home and/or fixed wireless to the home 25 Mbps/3 Mbps service.
Update: The Osage Nation has launched its broadband expansion project under the title “Wahzhazhe Connect,” per prior Tribal Business News reporting. The project encompasses 16 cell towers and 200 miles of new fiber installations in a bid to bring the rural community online under tribally owned infrastructure.
The project —which combines its Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program funding with a $13.9 million Department of Agriculture ReConnect grant — breaks ground Feb. 6.
“The Osage Nation is so pleased to begin construction in our senior housing neighborhood,” said Chief Geoffrey Standingbear in a statement. “One of our core cultural values places elders first in any situation, whether we are serving a meal or providing light-speed internet services. Wahzhazhe Connect will also provide technical assistance to our elders in setting up and maintaining their internet service as we continue to expand broadband to the rest of the Osage Nation service area.”
Wahzhazhe Connect will leverage the help of several local partners to train field technicians, create new jobs, and begin coordinating with local and state broadband efforts, according to a recent statement.
“What we’re doing is like building an apartment complex,” Dr. James Trumbly, Wahzhazhe Connect director, said in a statement. “We’re building it and we’ve got special skill-sets that go along with that, but there’s no revenue associated with building an apartment complex.
It’s not until you get it built that you then have to get a property manager to come in and find renters, lease it, invoice, collect the rent, do the payments, do the painting and maintenance and trouble-shooting and all the things that go with that. So we have to look at the project in its totality even though right now we’re focusing on the build part.”
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