Rep. Schrier Announces Nisqually and Colville Tribes Receive First-Ever Licenses to Expand Internet Access

October 24, 2020
Press Release

ISSAQUAH, WA – Congresswoman Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08) announced today that the Nisqually and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation in the 8th district are two of eight Tribes in Washington state to receive first-of-their-kind licenses for 2.5 GHz wireless broadband services. This program created by the FCC will help close the digital divide.

“Inadequate internet access is a decades-old problem that has only been exacerbated by this pandemic,” said Rep. Schrier. “So many things we do on a day-to-day basis rely on internet access, like learning and working from home, telemedicine, and connecting with family members. This important program will provide necessary tools like wireless internet to Tribal families and help bridge the digital divide. I hope the FCC continues to find opportunities to ensure even more Tribes in WA and other communities around the country can access these essential services.”

"Today the Colville Tribes received news that our FCC application to directly access unassigned spectrum services over our reservation lands was approved.  The declaration of the COVID-19 Pandemic has heightened the critical need of our communities and tribal members requirements for broadband access to study, to work, and to obtain critical health services in the rural and remote areas of the Colville reservation. Once our license is issued the Colville Tribes will have authority to bring broadband to our underserved communities.  Without access to broadband our children do not have equal access to education and our members do not have opportunities for economic development, internet access to complete employment applications, census records, voting privileges, and communication opportunities that most of our nation take for granted," said Rodney Cawston, Chairman, Colville Business Council.

The licenses through the FCC provide for exclusive use of up to 117.5 megahertz of 2.5 GHz band spectrum that can be used by Tribes to connect their communities. This is used through unassigned radio frequencies that require a license to use. During the first application process, the Commission received over 400 applications to obtain overlay licenses to help address Tribes’ connectivity needs.

Earlier this Summer, Rep. Schrier held two meetings on broadband access. She convened state broadband and Tribal leaders for a discussion about this program and the overall need for more internet access in Washington state. A video of that can be found here. Rep. Schrier also held a roundtable with FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel on rural broadband. That conversation can be found here.