Published March 23, 2017
AKWESASNE — Sixty-eight miles of fiber connects the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s territory to important broadband infrastructure built by Mohawk Networks, a tribally-owned enterprise that is rapidly deploying high-speed Internet to previously unserved communities in Northern New York. On Enniskó:wa/March 21, 2017, Tribal Sub-Chief Michael Conners presented testimony before the U.S. House of Representative’s Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Invited by Congressman Raul Ruiz, (D-CA), the hearing, “Broadband: Deploying America’s 21st Century Infrastructure,” was held to address hurdles and identify best practices for the deployment of broadband in rural America and on tribal lands.
The development of broadband on the Tribe’s territory was initially funded in part by a $10.5 million USDA grant and through significant tribal investment. Recently, the Tribe received an additional $6.4 million grant from Governor Cuomo’s New NY Broadband initiative to expand its services off-territory. Tribal Sub-Chief Conners explains, “Our enterprise delivers essential services to our community that are absolutely critical in 2017. We are now working to deploy our wireless technology to our surrounding counties. It is an honor to testify on behalf of our efforts, but more importantly to address the significant challenges faced in providing the North Country with critical wireless services.”
Access to high-speed Internet is essential. It levels the playing field in education, healthcare and boosts economic development opportunities in rural areas. Tribal Chief Eric Thompson stated, “Our efforts on the state and federal level are being recognized as we work to ensure that we have connected, engaged communities that can compete in a global economy. The invitation to testify is an indicator of the progress we have been making in highlighting the opportunities made possible by legislation that prioritizes the needs of Indian Country and grants that deploy a 21st century utility that should be available in every home.”
The Tribe started delivering broadband services in 2009, after years of research and grant writing. “We credit the foresight of former leaders in our community, our broadband team at Mohawk Networks and our current leadership for consistently elevating the importance of connectivity in every conversation we have with our state and federal representatives,” shared Tribal Chief Beverly Cook. “This is an enormous undertaking, which requires the mindset that every step is bringing us closer to advancing our community. We hope our testimony helps other tribes facing the same challenges we have had and that new infrastructure legislation continues to be inclusive of tribal lands and supportive of tribal telecom entities.”
To view the complete testimony of Tribal Sub-Chief Michael Conners that highlights legislative priorities, challenges and recommended best practices for deploying broadband services on tribal lands and throughout rural America; please visit the U.S. House of Representative’s Document Repository athttp://docs.house.gov/meetings/IF/IF16/20170321/105740/HHRG-115-IF16-Wstate-ConnersM-20170321.pdf.