Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission Mignon L. Clyburn held a roundtable discussion on August 10, 2016 at Navajo Technical University to collect input and challenges in regard to expanding broadband access on the Navajo Nation.
The visit was part of a national Connecting Communities tour the FCC is conducting to meet with rural and urban communities to hear their perspectives on the benefits and challenges of embracing 21st century communication services. During her visit to NTU, Clyburn focused on the unique challenges facing the Navajo Nation.
“Good policy doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Clyburn, as she emphasized the importance of working with local communities in assessing their needs. “Good decision making, the best decision making, has to involve you. Has to involve all of us.”
“We need to make sure all the services and needs that the communities want and need and deserve, that they are able to have access to that,” continued Clyburn, emphasizing the importance of affordable connectivity. “If your voices are not heard, than the best policy decision making will not happen.”
Her visit to the Navajo Nation began in Torreon, New Mexico, where she discussed discounted phone services for low-income consumers for health care education. She then went to Crownpoint for the roundtable discussion and ended the trip with a visit to Crownpoint’s healthcare and correctional facilities.
Stakeholders who participated in the roundtable discussion at NTU included: Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye; the Navajo Nation Washington, D.C. Office; Navajo Tribal Utility Authority; Navajo Nation Emergency Medical Services; the Navajo Nation Police Department; and regional service providers like Sacred Winds Communications, Frontier Communications, and Cellular One. Concerns expressed during the discussion included problems extending infrastructure and laying fiber, right of way issues, and regulations and policies that limit access.
When the Connecting Communities tour is complete, Clyburn will deliver a major policy speech this fall where she will share her observations and outline the policies she has advanced during her term to connect communities with communication services.