Stimulas grant to fund high-speed Internet goes for Navajo Nation

By Susan Montoyr Bryan
Albuequerque, New Mexico (AP) March 2010

The U.S. is investing more than $32 million in stimulus funds to help the largest American Indian reservation, the Navajo Nation, build a high-speed Internet highway that will connect thousands of homes and businesses across the sprawling reservation.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the grant last week, saying Navajo communities in New Mexico, Arizona and Utah will benefit.

Locke says 60 percent of homes on the reservation lack basic telephone service and many Navajo communities have unemployment levels that exceed 40 percent.

He says Navajos are stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide and the grant will help fix that.

Once all the fiber optic cables are in place, officials say affordable broadband service will be accessible to 30,000 homes, 1,000 businesses and 1,100 community institutions.