FCC Renews Tribal Advisory Body

The FCC has renewed and renamed its tribal government task force.

The Native Nations Broadband Task Force has been re-chartered and renamed the Native Nations Communications Task Force.

The task force, established in 2011, advises the FCC on the impact of various proceedings and proposals "in the Commission’s efforts to promote Tribal self-sufficiency, economic development and access to communications facilities and services."

The name change reflects the task force's involvment in issues beyond simply boosting deployment and adoption of broadband on Tribal lands.

Related: FCC Proposes to Limit Lifeline Tribal LandsSubsidies Only to Those Lands

The FCC is also seeking nominations for new members of the newly reconstituted advisory body. Applicants need to be "elected leaders from federally recognized Tribal governments or governmental entities, or their designated employees."

The FCC is also looking to get more broadband or communications experience on the task force, saying it is "particularly interested in applicants with diverse professional experience and backgrounds in broadband, telecommunications, broadcast, information technology, and infrastructure deployment and adoption."

The FCC is under a congressional mandate to extend advanced communications to everyone.

"The Task Force is intended to provide an effective means for Tribal thought leaders to exchange ideas and develop recommendations to the Commission on, among other things, the availability of communications facilities and services – including, but not limited to broadband – on Tribal lands, which will in turn enhance the Commission’s ability to carry out its statutory responsibilities to ensure the availability of communication by wire and radio, and encourage broadband deployment to all Americans.

The task force meets in person twice yearly (once in D.C., once in "the field") and four times via teleconference. The FCC wants nominations by March 31. Members must attend at least half the meetings.

In December, the FCC doubled the size of its intergovernmental advisory committee, including adding at least three Native American Tribal representatives.

Getting broadband to rural areas is a priority of the Ajit Pai-led FCC, and more recently an express priority of President Donald Trump.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.