“Bridging the digital divide for the Navajo Nation opens up opportunities for Native-owned businesses to grow and for valued citizens to gain access to essential services including 911, online education and telehealth,” Cari Shyiak, president and CEO at SAC Wireless said. “To deploy Nokia 4G LTE RAN solutions over a wide expanse of tribal land, we will be leveraging SAC’s end-to-end deployment capabilities and experience rolling out networks.
Funded through a CARES grant provided in response to COVID-19 impact on the community, the project requires that all sites be operational by the end of 2020.
“With a strong execution team in place, we can meet the deadline while delivering the top tier quality and safety we built the SAC brand upon. This project kicked off in October and runs through the end of the year,” Shyiak said.
The network will use 600 MHz, Citizens Broadband Radio Spectrum (CBRS) and Educational Broadband Services (EBS) spectrum to rapidly add extra coverage and capacity.
“Choice NTUA Wireless was an early proponent for CBRS spectrum and Nokia is a leader in CBRS-based solutions,” John Harrington, SVP, U.S. major accounts, Nokia said. “This partnership will provide the Navajo Nation with the high-speed LTE coverage it needs today, while our 5G-ready AirScale solution ensures that the network can evolve to 5G when needed.”
Located in the Northeast corner of Arizona that includes the “Four Corners,” the Navajo Nation’s remote location creates challenges around cost-effectively installing infrastructure for deploying high-speed internet. Choice NTUA Wireless has long been committed to providing voice and data service to the region to meet tribal members’ residential and business connectivity requirements. Its parent company, ATN International, was one of the top acquiring companies for CBRS priority access licenses (PAL), gaining critical new spectrum to deploy Fixed Wireless Access across the Navajo Nation and in other rural areas in the U.S.
“While COVID-19 has impacted all communities, the Navajo Nation was hit particularly hard. We have had a long-term partnership with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to provide voice and data service across the nation, and our partnership with Nokia and SAC Wireless for this important project allows us to deliver the additional capacity and coverage required to support increased bandwidth needs for education, telehealth and remote workforces,” Tom Guthrie, SVP – general manager, Choice NTUA Wireless said.