State Public Works Board votes to support tribal broadband access

  • February 10, 2020

State to explore funding opportunities to assist tribes pursuing access to unassigned spectrum over their lands

OLYMPIA, Wash. –At its February meeting, the Washington State Public Works Board voted unanimously to support any of Washington’s 29 federally recognized tribes that are granted a license under the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Rural Tribal 2.5GHz Tribal Priority Window.

The PWB pledges its support, through its broadband grant and loan program, to eligible projects with licensed tribes in meeting their build-out requirements. The federal opportunity allows rural tribes to access unassigned spectrum for wireless and fixed broadband connection.

The build-out process is expected to differ from tribe to tribe, as each solution will need to be tailored to its unique situation. While this makes estimating project costs difficult, Public Works Board Chair Scott Hutsell is excited to meet the challenge.

“We look forward to partnering with the tribes to take advantage of this program,” Hutsell said. “The great part of this process is that it allows the tribes to create solutions that fit their particular geography and cultural identity, and honors their traditions and sovereignty. While this is a valuable next step for addressing equitable broadband access in our state, it remains but one aspect of a larger issue.”

Visit the Public Works Board broadband financing webpage for more information.

For additional questions, contact Shelley Westall at 360-725-3162 or Shelley.Westall@commerce.wa.gov.

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