The largest Native American community in the US, the Navajo Nation, this week flipped the switch on an $8m datacentre installation that has been under development since 2009.
The move finally brings internet connectivity to a 27,425 square-mile region that covers portions of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico and delivers connectivity to around 70 per cent of the 175,000-strong population.
The technology centre will be operated by NTUA Wireless, a for profit company created three years ago as the Navajo Nation headed the broadband effort for a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant from the US government. Through this initiative Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly helped push development of a $46m broadband project designed to cover about half of Navajo territory with 550 miles of fibre, 32 new cell towers and upgrades to another 27. It will eventually connect more than 30,000 households and 1,000 businesses.
“We are a technology nation just as much as we are an energy nation,” said Shelly. “The day following the field hearing in Flagstaff, our Navajo staff formed a broadband work group. They brought together telephone companies, Internet Service Providers, government offices, enterprises, hospitals, schools, city and county governments. They even reached out to the Hopi tribe, and Hopi Telecommunications.
“With the cloud, we are inviting companies, corporation, large groups across America to store their data here on the Navajo Nation. It is a smart move,” said Shelly.