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3/17/2010 4:30:00 PM
Grant would fund broadband Internet to Tribal communities

A grant to bring broadband Internet services to the eight Choctaw Indian communities is being pursued by the Tribe.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is seeking the grant through the USDA Rural Utility Service Broadband Initiatives Program.

The grant would come under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

This project could have far-reaching results, not just to the Tribal entities and residents, but to non-members who live in the rural areas as well, Michelle York, Information Technology director for the Tribe, said.

The potential value of the Choctaw Broadband Internet Services Program is extraordinary for the Tribe as a whole since there are eight-federally recognized Choctaw Indian communities scattered throughout east central Mississippi in six different counties, York said.

Many areas lack adequate high-speed Internet services and the broadband project would provide Tribal residents, businesses, government offices and facilities located on Tribal lands - as well as those located in surrounding areas off-reservation - with fast, reliable and reasonably priced, high-speed broadband Internet capabilities, she said.

The Tribe has received encouragement and support from a large number of interested parties and individuals who are in immediate need of Broadband Internet services in their businesses, homes and government offices.

York said the goal is to help official Tribal entities like schools and emergency services have better communication abilities. The schools in particular need this because their current Internet connections are not enough to serve the needs of the students, she said.

York also said that once the proposed project is complete it would also help residents who are not part of the tribe but live near the communities.

She said these residents could join a plan to receive the same Broadband Internet service as the Tribe would have.

This would help rural areas because at this time high-speed Internet service does not reach these places, York said.

The grant application must be submitted by March 19. After that, officials should be notified in about 60 days of the outcome.



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