Jim Carlson, CEO of Carlson Wireless Technologies, met with Geoffrey Blackwell of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at the TribalNet conference in Reno, Nev. in October.
Blackwell, who heads the FCC’s newly-formed Office of Native Affairs and Policies, attended the conference in order to share information about the FCC’s National Broadband Plan with the several hundred tribal representatives there.
Carlson, who develops radio-based telecommunications solutions for rural and hard-to-access regions, contributes regularly to FCC policy-making discussions at the national level. He also serves on the board of Access Humboldt, the local public media organization that is working to make broadband available in every corner of the county.
“For the last three years, Carlson Wireless has been working with local tribes in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties to get connectivity into those rural areas. It’s a longstanding personal goal to see progress here,” Carlson said.
The National Broadband Plan identifies access to high-speed Internet as a chief economic indicator, calling it a “vital connection” to economic opportunity, higher education and healthcare information.
Rural living—which means sparse population and rugged terrain—goes hand-in-hand with lack of broadband access, because of the lack of necessary infrastructure for high-speed Internet connection.
And tribal territory is often the most rural. While more than a third of Americans do not have broadband access, and that number is much higher in Native American communities, where more than 90 percent are still not connected. That number is reflected locally as well, as most of the residents of the Yurok and Hoopa reservations cannot access broadband from their homes.
Blackwell announced the formation of a new Native Nations Broadband Task Force that aims to address this issue. He asked Carlson to come to Washington, D.C. to contribute his technical engineering insights to the discussion.
“He wants ideas about spectrum allocation, cutting red tape and building a model for wireless deployment in rural areas like ours,” Carlson noted.
Featured Image: Jim Carlson, center with FCC officials Geoffrey Blackwell and Daniel Rumelt, from the FCC Office of Native Affairs, where Blackwell serves as chief and Rumelt as senior adviser.