- By Chez Oxendine
- Economic Development
Location: Bellingham, Washington
Award Amount: $16,531,179.05
The Lummi Nation in northwestern Washington plans to open doors with its $16.5 million award from the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, says Lummi Business Council Secretary William Jones, Jr.
The award, granted in October 2022, will help the Lummi Nation install 56 miles of fiber optic cable, bringing direct connectivity to roughly 2,273 unserved households, 193 businesses, 23 anchor institutions, and 198 non-Native households within reservation boundaries, per the project summary on NTIA’s website.
“We’ve always known that broadband was important, but it wasn’t until the pandemic that we were forced to live in a virtual world,” Jones said.
Still in its planning stages, the project will “open up” economic and technology opportunities for the Lummi Nation, Jones said. He pointed to improvements in telehealth, business connectivity, and remote learning, a common refrain among tribes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, per prior Tribal Business News reporting.
The new connectivity initiative arose in the wake of Native Networks, a “rapidly deployed” stopgap network brought online during the early days of COVID-19. That connectivity, provided for free to Lummi tribal members initially, expired in June 2021, leaving customers subject to high costs and tenuous service from surrounding providers.
The new broadband network effort, which will create 15 to 20 jobs in IT and construction, is intended to be a more permanent solution to the internet issues on the Lummi Reservation.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our broadband team who worked hard to secure these funds for our nation,” Jones said. “The Lummi Nation is truly grateful to be receiving this award.”