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TMCNet:  Tribe gets grant for wireless service: Nez Perce receive $1.569 million in stimulus money [The Lewiston Morning Tribune, Idaho]

[August 19, 2010]

Tribe gets grant for wireless service: Nez Perce receive $1.569 million in stimulus money [The Lewiston Morning Tribune, Idaho]

(Lewiston Morning Tribune (ID) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 19--Internet and cell phone service is slated to improve on the Nez Perce Reservation through a grant awarded Wednesday to the Nez Perce Tribe.

The $1.569 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was awarded to the tribe to expand sparse wireless coverage in areas of Clearwater, Idaho, Lewis and Nez Perce counties.

The tribe, working with regional providers Inland Cellular of Lewiston and First Step Internet of Moscow, plans to expand coverage through a wireless microwave network that will provide high-speed services throughout the four counties on the reservation.

The companies will be able to offer cheaper and more accessible service to 4,800 households and 2,400 businesses utilizing the network, according to the tribe. Work from the grant must be completed within the next two years, said Chris St. Germaine, a grant writer for the tribe.

"This project will fill a major void in coverage on the Nez Perce Reservation for such services as wireless broadband," Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee Chairman McCoy Oatman said in a statement. Oatman also commended staff members at the tribe's information systems department for their work on the project.

Eight new microwave towers and agreements on 10 existing towers will enable expansion for service providers across a 119-mile backbone of the reservation. The project will connect buildings, including 12 public safety entities, four libraries and the tribal government buildings, with high-speed wireless broadband at speeds between 20 and 100 megabits per second.

St. Germaine said the project should specifically enhance wireless service in Lapwai, Culdesac, Peck, Ahsahka, Orofino, Kamiah and Kooskia. The goal is also to provide voice and data cellular service to much-traveled dead zones on the reservation, like those between Greer and Kamiah.

"One of the goals of this project is to fill in these gaps," St. Germaine said.

Wednesday's was the second announcement this year that federal stimulus funds were headed to the region in an effort to boost high-speed Internet. In March, First Step Internet received $2.4 million in federal stimulus money to strengthen broadband infrastructure throughout north central Idaho.

Gary may be contacted at or (208) 848-2262.

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