Skip to main content

Telecommunications: Challenges to Assessing and Improving Telecommunications For Native Americans on Tribal Lands

GAO-06-189 Published: Jan 11, 2006. Publicly Released: Feb 10, 2006.
Jump To:
Skip to Highlights


An important goal of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, is to ensure access to telecommunications services for all Americans. The Federal Communications Commission has made efforts to improve the historically low subscribership rates of Native Americans on tribal lands. In addition, Congress is considering legislation to establish a grant program to help tribes improve telecommunications services on their lands. This report discusses 1) the status of telecommunications subscribership for Native Americans living on tribal lands; 2) federal programs available for improving telecommunications on these lands; 3) barriers to improvements; and 4) how some tribes are addressing these barriers.


Matter for Congressional Consideration

Matter Status Comments
To facilitate Internet access for tribal libraries, Congress may wish to consider amending the Communications Act of 1934 to allow libraries eligible for Library Service and Technology Act funds provided by the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services to either a state library administrative agency or to a federally recognized tribe to be eligible for funding under the E-rate program.
Closed – Not Implemented
Congress did not pass legislation consistent with the Matter for Congressional Consideration.
Congress may wish to consider directing FCC to (1) determine what additional data is needed to help assess progress toward the goal of providing access to telecommunications services, including high-speed Internet, for Native Americans living on tribal lands; (2) determine how this data should regularly be collected; and (3) report to Congress on its findings.
Closed – Implemented
Congress passed legislation to address our matter for Congressional consideration.

Full Report

Office of Public Affairs


CensusData collectionFederal aid to localitiesIndian landsInternetNative AmericansPolicy evaluationPopulation statisticsSurveysTelecommunication policyTelecommunicationsTelecommunications systemsTelephonesUniversal serviceWireless