Internet reaching more entities on reservation

Jan 27, 2014 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Communications specialists gave lawmakers an update on the Wind River Indian Reservation's Internet connections during the Wyoming Legislature's Select Committee on Tribal Relations meeting Jan. 6.

Mike Kenney, of Dubois Telephone Exchange, an independent communication company that serves rural Wyoming and Colorado, said the company has successfully connected many facilities on the reservation with a fiber optic line.

Schools on the reservation, tribal housing facilities and Indian Health Services are the primary locations that have full Internet access, Kenney said.

"They're connected and up and running," he said, adding the schools are operating on 100 megabytes of data service or greater.

The company also is working on service requests from others on the reservation. A credit union office, dialysis center, law enforcement headquarters and housing units either are working under the new connection or are waiting for the service, Kenney said.

"Tribal entrepreneurs are also looking into connectivity," he said.

The ultimate goal is to push broadband connectivity to homes on the reservation, he said, after all halls, community centers and libraries obtain the connection. Other locations are looking to upgrade their service as well.

"I'm very pleased," Kenney said. "I hope they're pleased just as much as I am."

Northern Arapaho Tribal Industries general manager Patrick Adam Lawson said the firm hopes to expand the fiber optic line to Ethete and Arapahoe and add a wireless connection. He said 250 residential customers and 50 businesses have the connection, and there are 13 different access points and power sites for the two tribes.

The Boulder Flats area outside of Fort Washakie, however, remains a tough spot to reach.

"That area has been more difficult to work with," Lawson said, explaining it is hard for tower signals to reach that area.

A representative from the Lander Economic Development Association present at the meeting said the redundant fiber optic cable in Lander was close enough to Fort Washakie that it could be made to reach the Boulder Flats area and the Shoshone Rose Casino on U.S. Highway 287.

Boulder Flats area resident Sara Robinson said the lack of connectivity has made it difficult for her and others nearby to conduct business at home, and often leads them to pay more for television services.

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