In April 2011, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) began construction on more than 110 miles of aerial fiber-optic cable, initiating the first phase of a five-phase project. NTUA started stringing the first mile of aerial fiber in Tohatchi, N.M., and plans to run the network lines to its district office in Shiprock, N.M.
In total, NTUA will activate 570 miles of fiber-optic network lines and 59 microwave towers to offer connection speeds between 1 and 3 Mbps. These technologies, deployed in northern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico, will cover more than 70 percent of the 27,000 square miles of the Navajo Nation homeland where most residents only have dial-up connections to the Internet. Once the project is completed, NTUA will make broadband Internet service available to as many as 30,000 households, 1,000 businesses, and 1,100 anchor institutions located throughout the Navajo Nation.
The tribal utility authority is training its employees, which are Navajo Nation citizens, to install and maintain these new Internet technologies. For example, NTUA is working with its technology suppliers and partners to use classroom instruction, webinars, mentors, coaches, and hands-on training to sustain the infrastructure once construction is complete. Currently, seven NTUA personnel are dedicated to building and learning how to sustain this infrastructure; NTUA anticipates it will need up to 12 staff to maintain the infrastructure in the future. In addition, NTUA and Diné College (the Navajo Nation college) have set up a program to educate Navajo citizens on managing new technologies, such as fiber-optic lines and LTE wireless towers.
Last Updated October 18, 2011.