International Towers expands broadband service on the Flathead Reservation
High-speed internet access, or broadband, is critical to economic opportunity, job creation, education, and civic engagement. In urban areas, 97 percent of Americans have access to high-speed fixed service. Compare that to rural areas where that number falls to 65 percent. On Tribal lands, barely 60 percent have access. In total, nearly 30 million Americans cannot access the benefits of the digital age.
Recently, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced the granting of spectrum licenses to 154 Tribal Nations, including seven of the eight in Montana, through its Rural Tribal Priority Window. The spectrum licenses reserve a 2.5 GHz (gigahertz) radio frequency band to provide broadband services to chronically under-served Indian Reservations, many of which are in rural areas.
International Towers, LLC (ITL) supported the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) Infrastructure Administrator by performing the design, build, and install of four Network Expansion Communication Tower sites on the CSKT Flathead Reservation. ITL is a subsidiary of S&K Technologies, Inc.
In June, ITL personnel conducted site surveys of the proposed tower site locations that include Bolder, Jette, Oliver Point, and Pistol Creek. Beginning in July, 2020, ITL personnel, equipment, and materials were deployed to the tower installation sites where site access, clearing, foundation installation, tower installation, primary and backup generator power, and shelter installations were completed ahead of the end of December completion date. The success of this project was due, in large part, to the community effort of local contractors.
This effort was made possible through CARES Act funding and will improve communications coverage for the reservation in the 2.5MHz band. The installation of these four tower sites provides expanded communication coverage for 80% of the CSKT user area. ITL’s design is such that it accommodates the communication antenna install requirement and affords the CSKT the future ability to accommodate cell carrier and microwave point-to-point antenna communications infrastructure.