facebook app symbol  twitter  instagram 1

Mobile Ad Container

Washington, D.C.-based broadband consultancy Tribal Ready said Thursday that it acquired the assets of a Mississippi-based internet service provider (ISP) that grew out of a local government agency.  Terms were not disclosed.

The ISP — Sebastopol, Miss.-based Swag Fiber LLC — is a small operation with about five employees serving rural areas throughout Mississippi. Prior to the acquisition, the ISP was owned by Sebastopol’s water department. Tribal Ready purchased the company to test new technologies and software through an existing operation, according to the consultancy’s CEO, Joe Valandra. 

Never miss the biggest stories and breaking news about the tribal economy. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every Monday morning.

“The utility company determined broadband wasn’t in their wheelhouse, but they wanted to maintain service to their customers,” Valandra told Tribal Business News. “This gives us a chance to not only serve those customers, but expand service to new customers in the community.”

It’s a way to stage new wireless technologies before bringing those to Tribal Ready’s other customers across the country, Valandra said. SWAG’s small size and existing infrastructure gives Tribal Ready a way to model how small ISPs would look for tribes.

By developing new technology for SWAG’s rural customers, Tribal Ready could better prepare strategies and technology for rural tribes, Valandra said.  That might include everything from bridging connections between wireless towers and fiber backbones to customer management software.

“In a lot of places, fiber all the way to the home is still prohibitively expensive,” Valandra said. “We’re testing new ways to expand the speed and capacity of wireless service that can reach more people. 

“We’re also looking at new back office partners to make things more cost efficient and friendly. We’re trying to make the most efficient operation possible, and then take that out to tribes.” 

Tribal Ready builds strategic plans, sources equipment, and supports tribes in building their own service provider operations. The company launched in 2023 in the wake of unprecedented federal funding leveled at getting tribes online. 

Since then Tribal Ready has begun supporting tribes from Michigan to California to Alaska, Valandra said. Acquiring SWAG will help Tribal Ready expand support to tribes in Mississippi, and then model those successes elsewhere. 

“Both Tribal Ready and SWAG were united by the goal of providing reliable internet access to unserved and underserved regions nationwide,” Valandra said. “With SWAG Fiber’s infrastructure, we will better serve Tribal lands where major ISPs lack presence.”

Ultimately, the acquisition serves Tribal Ready’s vision: getting more tribes in control of their own provider utilities. The end result of working with any broadband partners should be a tribally owned utility, Valandra said. 

To that end, more acquisitions are possible, he said. 

“The key to long-term success for tribes with broadband is owning the infrastructure and operations. It’s Tribal Ready’s goal to do all we can to make that happen,” Valandra told Tribal Business News. “We will continue to look for opportunities to gain experience in managing ISP operations.”

About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Staff Writer
Chez Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is a staff writer for Tribal Business News. Based in Oklahoma, he focuses on broadband, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and federal policy. His journalism has been featured in Native News Online, Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Baconian Magazine, and Oklahoma Magazine, among others.
Other Articles by this author