Warm Springs Launches Telecom Startup to Bring Internet, Phone Service to Reservation

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation broke ground Tuesday, April 12 on a new tribally owned telecommunications company bringing high-speed Internet, telephone and video to the nearly 4,000 tribal member community on the northern Oregon reservation, reported KTVZ-TV.

After more than 11 years of research and planning, tribal members should have access to Internet and phone by fall. The project was funded with a $5.6 million stimulus grant to open a telecommunications company. “It will elevate the quality of life here for communications and diminish the digital divide that occurs on Indian Country,” Jose Matanane, an adviser for the board of the new company, said at a groundbreaking, reported KTVZ-TV.

Currently, only  3 out of 5 tribal members on the Warm Springs reservation have telephone service, Marsha Spellman, the regulatory director for the newly-formed company, told OPB News.

Tech access should bring new jobs to the reservation and help tribal members form new businesses, board members said. “It’s really hard to have a business today without access to the Internet,” Vicki Walker, state director for USDA Rural Development, told KTVZ-TV. “You must have a presence, and to do that you need quality broadband, and we’re bringing that here to the Warm Springs Reservation.”

In addition to creating jobs, the upgrade will improve public safety for both the reservation and for travelers along Highway 26, reported KTVZ-TV.

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