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Fujitsu and Sacred Wind bring rural broadband to Navajo Nation

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RICHARDSON, Texas – Fujitsu Network Communications, a leading provider of innovative optical and wireless networking solutions, and Sacred Wind Communications recently announced the rollout of rural wireless broadband to bring telephone and Internet access to thousands of families in New Mexico’s Navajo Nation.

Rural broadband access has been gaining significant attention with the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes resources for extending broadband to rural communities.

In bringing these modern communications to its customers, Sacred Wind has been able to transform the lives of many Navajo. Prior to the program, nearly 78 percent of the occupied housing units in the Navajo community had no telephone or Internet access. Today, residents are able to call the doctor, stay in touch with relatives, or continue their education and broaden economic possibilities by utilizing the Internet for new and existing businesses.

“Rural advocates say that high speed access is a necessity in a global economy and a critical tool for economic engagement and survival in rural places,” said Monica Paolini, president at Senza Fili Consulting. “We can expect to see more about rural broadband access in the coming months. What’s been completed in the Navajo Nation is a strong example of how wireless broadband technologies, such as 3.65 GHz WiMAX, can bring essential communications to these areas around the country.”

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Leveraging the key benefits of WiMAX and innovative spectrum solutions, Sacred Wind, supported by Fujitsu, has brought phone and Internet service to citizens deprived of this critical commodity. Sacred Wind performed trials of the Fujitsu rural broadband wireless system in 2008 and will now roll out wireless broadband throughout its coverage area. Sacred Wind is also offering free Internet training at its center in Huerfano, N.M. where residents can learn how to use computers and the Internet. Fujitsu donated laptop computers to the trial customers.

“Because many Navajo live in very remote areas with extremely rugged terrain, laying copper cable or fiber was too costly,” said Jim Orr, principal network architect at Fujitsu. “Working closely with Sacred Wind to understand the complexities of the project and its unique needs, we determined that fixed WiMAX was the ideal solution for this deployment. However, WiMAX is only one of many wireless options available for rural communities. Fujitsu is an end-to-end integrator providing total broadband access solutions, including Airspan WiMAX equipment, backhaul and soft switch equipment, services, civil work, and network design and engineering. We want to help bring flexible, cost-effective solutions to broadband networks.”

“We selected Fujitsu for more than their technology expertise,” said John Badal, Sacred Wind CEO. “We were most impressed with the caliber of the Fujitsu team and their desire to become a true partner with us to provide full support including civil work, RF planning, installation and full systems integration. Together, we’ve been able to help the Navajo improve the quality of their lives.”

“The work with Sacred Wind brings thousands of rural Americans much needed access to broadband and other cutting-edge communications technologies,” Orr added. “This kind of high-speed connectivity will lead to increased investment and business opportunities in rural communities. The effort could lead to the expansion of small businesses and the creation of new industries, bringing new jobs to rural Americans and driving economic growth.”