GILA RIVER INDIAN TRIBE, PHOENIX, ARIZONA - The 2018 Wiring the Rez conference brought together tribal economists, attorneys, telecommunications experts, and entrepreneurs was hosted by the Arizona State University law school on the tribal lands of the Gila River Indian Tribe.
Native Public Media Board Chairman Geoffrey Blackwell stated that innovative strategies for business development and e-commerce can flow from an understanding of what the Federal Communications Commission can offer Tribes.
The FCC as an independent federal agency contributes one fifth to the nation’s gross national product. As a prominent player in the national economic landscape, Blackwell urged Tribes to learn more about the FCC and how they can leverage programs like the Universal Service Fund to improve economic conditions on their lands. Blackwell discussed the importance and impact the FCC’s regulatory, licensing, and rulemaking role has on Tribal economies including preservation and environmental reviews.
Attending the conference with Chairman Blackwell were NPM President & CEO Loris Taylor and NPM Operations Manager Melissa Begay. NPM, through its Policy Program, supports Net Neutrality. Taylor states that Internet protections that prohibit blocking, throttling, fast lanes, or price tiers are important to healthy and robust tribal economies and a rollback of these protections is a major setback for entrepreneurs.
National efforts are currently underway to reinstate Net Neutrality as a utility all Americans need like electricity rather than the current administration's definition that the Internet is merely an information service that should be managed under the oversight of major telecommunications companies like Verizon and ATT.