While some carriers talk about wireless deals in the Billions, there are some areas of the country that are just now getting their first taste of wireless. While some of that infamous "stimulus" money made its way to the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations for a nice shiny new broadband network, there is another native American enclave just getting their first access at plain old wireless service. In some cases it's the first telephone service, period.
Straddling the border of North and South Dakota is the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, an area with almost no cellular coverage. They have taken it upon themselves to put up their own cellular sites and from those sites they're also serving their neighbors with WIMAX broadband service. The tribal authorities considered their own wired network, but found wireless much cheaper. It was just this summer that the FCC decided Standing Rock deserves money from the Universal Service Fund to help supply affordable service to the citizens of the area with their first telephone service of any kind. This is an area with 75% unemployment...it should be easier to find work with a phone available, not to mention better health care, emergency services and education.
So, while we watch Billion dollar wireless deals go back and forth, keep in mind those Americans who are just now getting their first wireless (and telephone) service. Standing Rock Telecom gets credit for moving ahead long before the federal bucks became available. Wireless will change lives there.