The Latest: FCC official targets lack of broadband parity

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Latest on the lack of internet connectivity in rural and American Indian communities (all times local):

11:55 a.m.

An official with the Federal Communications Commission says investment in broadband infrastructure is critical as it is increasingly determining which cities, towns and tribal nations in the United States will thrive.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn addressed a gathering of librarians and other experts Thursday in Washington, D.C., as the group discussed challenges to providing high-speed internet in American Indian communities.

Clyburn says despite the success of the federal government's E-rate program to provide funding for affordable internet access for schools and libraries, the numbers show a significant disparity when it comes to rural areas.

Clyburn voiced her support for legislation that seeks to expand access to federal funds and remove application barriers for tribes.

The daughter of a retired librarian, Clyburn said libraries serve as lifelines for rural communities.

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10:11 a.m.

Two western senators are proposing to expand access to federal funds that have enabled public schools and libraries throughout the U.S. to obtain high-speed internet at affordable rates in hopes of closing the digital divide in American Indian communities.

Librarians and other experts gathered Thursday in Washington, D.C., for a panel discussion on the legislation and the needs of tribal communities.

Cynthia Aguilar, a librarian with Santo Domingo Pueblo, described bringing broadband to her tribe as an innovation as large as establishing the railroad more than a century ago in what was then the territory of New Mexico.

While 90 per cent of public libraries in the U.S. have received funds through the federal E-rate program that supports improved internet access, officials estimate only 15 per cent of tribal libraries have received any of this funding.


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