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Tribes will build telecommunications center with Internet grant

USDA awards almost $700,000 to help close the digital divide
   June 18, 2003 — The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are the recipients of a $695,832 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for high-speed Internet.
   The funding will enable the Confederated Tribes to bring broadband telecommunications access onto the reservation via a microwave link from the Quantum Communication's point of presence in Madras.
   Quantum is a member of NoaNet (Northwest Open Access Network). Once on the reservation, the broadband signal will be distributed via fiber optic cable to key tribal agencies. Broadband Internet access also will be made available to tribal residents and businesses via either a fiber optics cable or a fixed, point to multi-point, wireless system.
   "We believe that this grant will allow our community to enjoy a level of telecommunication capability that is rare in Indian Country," said Charles V. Jackson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Confederated Tribes. "The impact will be far reaching, from adding new jobs, to enhancing tribal enterprises, to giving tribal members the capability to access the world through high-speed Internet connections in their homes."
   On May 16, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced the selection of the first broadband community grants to be awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
   The Rural Utilities Service grants total $20 million with over $8.2 million benefiting 13 Native American and Native Alaskan communities.
   Through these grants, the communities will be able to take advantage of the high-speed telecommunications tools needed to be a part of the global digital community. This will make possible many potential broadband services such as distance learning, telemedicine, enhanced public safety, tele-work opportunities, community television via web-casts, economic development projects requiring broadband, and e-government applications.
   A key element of the project in Warm Springs is the creation of a Telecommunications Community Center. The Center will house 24 desktop computer stations connected to high speed Internet. The Center will be open seven days a week and will be free of charge to the community for the first two years of operation.
   The center is planned to be located next to the Warm Springs Wellness Center.
   The process of applying for the grant was greatly facilitated by work already underway last year as a part of the tribal telecommunications planning effort funded by the Central Oregon Community Investment Board. Engineering design and assistance for the grant application was provided by Portland based W&H Pacific, an ASCG company.