July 2014 Map of the Month: Broadband Availability on Tribal Land

MapOfTheMonth_July2014On the whole, Utah has great broadband coverage, especially in urban areas. While Utah’s broadband coverage in comparison to similar states is a success story, there are still a few rural areas that lag behind in speed offerings and the number of providers from which to choose. For the 2014 Native American Summit in Orem, UT, the Project’s mapping team analyzed broadband availability on tribal lands.

This month’s map focuses on the maximum broadband speeds advertised and number of providers in each tribal area. Service is divided into fixed service (Cable, DSL, Fiber, Fixed Wireless), and mobile service. The maximum speeds reflect all services advertised, including speeds marketed towards business customers. The map also shows where fixed service is available (drawn in dark blue), where mobile service is available when fixed is not (in light blue), and where no broadband service is available (in dark gray).

Some tribal areas do have access to high broadband speeds. With the exception of the Goshute’s land in far western Utah, most tribal areas have good access to mobile broadband. On the Navajo, White Mesa Ute, and northern Paiute lands, mobile providers are advertising faster speeds than fixed broadband providers. In these cases, mobile can be a good alternative to fixed services.

Overall, there are improvements that can be made to broadband access on tribal lands. The northern Paiute, White Mesa Ute, and Navajo lands all only have access to a maximum of 1-3 Mbps download over fixed broadband, and the current service covers only a fraction of their land. This is likely due to the rural locations of these areas and the low population density, which creates a higher market challenge. While the challenge is high, it is important that these areas obtain broadband access, as more and more people rely on broadband for education and bsuiness communications, especially in rural Utah.