Las Vegas, Nev. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and a bicameral group of lawmakers calling out the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for shortchanging Tribes on the Tribal broadband application deadline. In a letter to the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the lawmakers cite challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and call for a full 180-day extension from the original August 3, 2020, 2.5 GHz Tribal priority filing window deadline, instead of the FCC’s 30-day extension that was announced one working day before the deadline expiration.
“Denying an extension for native communities to claim spectrum over their lands during this unprecedented pandemic is unconscionable,” the lawmakers wrote. “Tribes continue to encounter significant regulatory barriers that excluded them, as this order does, from the ability to effectively deploy wireless services.
Lack of broadband internet infrastructure has created a barrier for Tribes to combat the COVID-19 pandemic limiting access to telehealth, virtual learning, and unemployment benefits and other economic relief. The FCC created additional barriers for Tribes to access spectrum by implementing severely shortened deadlines, contrary to other extensions for spectrum applications on non-Tribal lands.
In May, Senator Cortez Masto joined the previous original request to provide tribal communities more time and extend the Rural Tribal Priority Window deadline.
A full copy of the letter can be found HERE.