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Sacred Wind Brings Solar Phones to Remote Navajos

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The Albuquerque, New Mexico-based Sacred Wind Communications has made solar-powered phone service a reality on the Navajo Nation, reported the Albuquerque Journal.

Now residents in remote areas of the four corners without electricity can have telephone service.

“Our intent is to offer these units for elderly customers and people with medical problems who do not have electric service,” John Badal, chief executive officer of Sacred Wind Communications, told the Albuquerque Journal. “Having them connected will provide peace of mind for the customers and their families.”

Mary Woody of the Huerfano Chapter of the Navajo Nation became the first Sacred Wind solar-phone customer. "Right-of-way" issues prevented her from getting electricity service to her home, Sacred Wind said.

“Mary is a grandmother who takes care of her daughter and granddaughter,” Badal told the Albuquerque Journal. “She has had no telephone service, and been unable to communicate with people outside the home. This was especially worrisome in the case of an emergency. We are so thrilled to have been able to connect her and provide this much-needed service.”

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Seven amps and 20 volts power a battery that holds a charge for seven days, Badal said.

"We’ve affixed all this stuff on one pole—solar panel, batteries and radio electronics in the aluminum box at the base, and fixed wireless antenna on top—to keep the customer’s homesite space utilized as small as possible," Badal told Indian Country Today Media Network in an email.

"The phone inside the home is a generic telephone connected to a modem," Badal said.

The first company in New Mexico to offer solar-powered phone service, Sacred Wind is also working to expand the Navajo Nation's broadband service. Since purchasing the local telephone facilities serving portions of Navajo lands from Qwest Corporation in 2006, Sacred Wind has earned praise far and wide.

In 2009, NBC Universal and American Express announced Sacred Wind as the winner and most inspiring small business in their “Shine A Light” program, reported Stop the Cap!. The award is determined by public vote—customers nominate their favorite small business for a $100,000 prize for grant and marketing support.