On the Uintah and Ouray
Reservation, home to the Ute Tribe, in Utah. Photo: Ken Lund
Ft. Duchesne, Utah (November 2, 2020) The Ute Indian Tribal
Business Committee is pleased to announce that its application to
the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") has been approved
to award the Ute Indian Tribe ("Tribe") a license for 2.5 GHz spectrum
across the Uintah and Ouray Reservation ("Reservation"). The Tribe
had applied for this license under the FCC's Tribal Priority Window,
which, subject to certain restrictions, provided Indian tribes the
first opportunity to procure a license for spectrum within their
tribal lands and to do so at no cost to tribes. The Tribal
Business Committee had long supported the intertribal initiative
for FCC to extend these licenses to Tribes, which has now established
a process by which Tribes can maintain ownership over spectrum within
its sovereign territory.
Spectrum, in the context of the telecommunications industry, refers
to invisible radio frequencies that wireless electromagnetic signals
can travel over to convey information across a telecommunication
network, such as a cellular phone network.
The Tribe's new FCC spectrum license will open up a wide range
of valuable opportunities on the Reservation. With radio spectrum
of the 2.5 GHz band, Indian tribes and/or internet service providers
can deploy 5G networks within tribal lands that can support many
wireless technology services, such as telemedicine, cellular phones,
precision agriculture, cloud storage, and the Internet of Things.
The license could also be leased to a third party such as internet
or cellular service providers to generate a new revenue source for
the Tribe. This broadband is capable of providing service in high
density population areas as well as rural areas and, aside from
its commercial uses, the 2.5 GHz band could be used for educational,
public health, and governmental purposes, as well as household use.
The Tribe's new license could be used to broadcast educational programs,
utilize telemedicine applications, and improve emergency response
services. The Business Committee is excited to bring these new opportunities
to the Tribe's membership.
The Business Committee is hard at work assessing the various options
for use of the Tribe's FCC spectrum license in order to move forward
with development in the best interest of Tribal members.
Moving forward, the Business Committee will be further considering
the best options for rollout of the broadband network; identifying
the locations where service would be provided and the number of
users at those locations; identifying existing cellular towers and
potential locations for new towers; and determining how the network
will be owned and managed in order to maximize the value of this
asset for the benefit of the Tribal membership.
The Ute Indian Tribe resides on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation
in northeastern Utah. Three bands of Utes comprise the Ute Indian
Tribe: the Whiteriver Band, the Uncompahgre Band and the Uintah
Band. The tribe has a membership of more than 3,000 individuals,
with more than half living on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.
The Ute Indian Tribe operates its own tribal government and oversees
approximately 1.3 million acres of trust land that contains significant
oil and gas deposits. The Ute Business Committee is the governing
council of the tribe.