will help bring high-speed access to rural homes, businesses
- A $4.2 million federal loan announced Tuesday will help spread
high-speed Internet access to homes and businesses across the Cheyenne
River Indian Reservation.
have some of the poorest counties in the country ... with a land
area the size of the state of Connecticut," said J.D. Williams,
manager of the tribe's telephone authority. "From Bridger to
Blackfoot, we're going to provide the service."
is a small community on the southwest edge of the reservation in
west-central South Dakota, while Blackfoot is near the northeast
loan is part of a U.S. Agriculture Department initiative to improve
telecommunications in rural America. Students on the reservation
will gain access in their homes to the same high-speed Internet
service available in most larger cities, Williams said during a
ceremony marking the loan approval in Gov. Mike Rounds' state Capitol
project has great potential for reservation development, said Mark
Shupick of the Four Bands Community Fund in Eagle Butte.
dial-up system, call and wait 10 minutes for something to download
-Êit's just ridiculous," he said. "You have to have
speed. Any more, the sites that are out there, they're just thinking
everybody has it already."
sees opportunity in tourism, most immediately with the 200th anniversary
of the Lewis and Clark journey through South Dakota.
are going to be encampments, other ideas, and all that stuff needs
Web sites and access," he said.
upgrade also will help reservation medical services and economic
development, Williams said. The tribe has a call center that provides
about 50 jobs.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority received a 14-year,
4 percent loan for $4.2 million. The tribe can use the money to
build, improve or buy facilities and equipment for high-speed service.
Priority for the loans was to areas where such service doesn't exist
at all. On the Cheyenne River reservation, 216 households will sign
up initially, with more added as the network grows. The project
will involve five Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe exchanges in Corson,
Dewey and Ziebach counties.
authority already has fiber-optic lines throughout the reservation.
The loan will allow placement of digital subscriber lines to increase
the speed at which information moves. The leap forward in technology
helps medical care, schools and economic development, Williams said.
goal of the loan program is to give the tribe and other rural recipients
access to the digital world economy, said Lynn Jensen, state rural
development director for the USDA.
are the new paved roads of rural America," Jensen said.
USDA approved 20 of the rural broadband and telecommunications loans,
with $190 million for 19 states.
said he is pleased officials picked the Cheyenne River Sioux project.
He called the venture an "opportunity to prove we can do it
out here," one that could lead to similar projects on other
reservations in the state.
people need access to the Internet, in their homes," the governor
said. "To go broadband is a major step. The Internet moves
so quickly for most of us, we don't realize the hardship it is not
to have it."