NTIA Award Will Fundamentally Improve Broadband Access And Elevate Economy In California’s Far North Coast
Today, the Yurok Tribe’s Telecommunications Corporation received a $61 million Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ( to significantly increase broadband access and boost the economy on California’s far north coast.
With the NTIA funds, the Tribe will install 62 miles of middle mile fiber optic cable from Orick to Crescent City as well as last mile spurs extending from the main line to Requa and Klamath Glenn. Representing one of the largest ever technological advancement s in the region, the project will bring high speed broadband to nearly 1,000 homes, 110 businesses and 18 anchor institutions. The installation of the critical infrastructure is projected to produce nearly 200 local jobs in the next few years.
“This is an absolute game changer not only for us, but for every community throughout our ancestral territory in Northern California,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe. “On behalf of the Yurok Tribe, I would like to sincerely thank the Biden Administration and NTIA’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program for investing in our effort to eliminate the digital divide and resolve longstanding disparities in healthcare, economic development and education.”
“I am equally excited about the capacity building and economic development elements of this project. This historic undertaking will further diversify our economic development portfolio and create lasting, living wage jobs for our citizens,” said Yurok Vice Chairman Frankie Myers. “It will also help us address the longstanding disparity in access to affordable, high speed internet services.”
“I am proud that we will be able to put the infrastructure in place to bring internet and electricity to the most remote parts of our reservation,” said Yurok Tribal Council Member Mindy Natt, who represents the Pecwan District.
“I would like to thank Congressman Jared Huffman for consistently supporting our rural community. After more than a decade of hard work, afford able high speed internet and approximately 200 jobs are coming to the North Coast,” said Del Norte County Supervisor Susan Masten, who represents the Fifth District.
The Yurok Tribal Council was intimately involved in the development of this life-changing project. The Tribal Council thanks the NTIA for the opportunity to have such a positive impact on the community. In addition to the fiber optic line, the Tribe will construct seven towers equipped with commercial-grade telecommunications equipment to serve the Yurok Reservation. The towers will be placed at the following locations: Johnsons, Notchko, New Village, Schoolhouse Peak, the Klamath River Jet Boats property, Redwood RV park and Klamath Glen. The project will also create opportunities for better cell service in the region.
The far-sighted project will also provide professional development opportunities to local individuals interested in pursuing broadband-related jobs. The Tribe will conduct trainings to teach community members how to install, maintain and operate broadband equipment. Administered in partnership with the Yurok Tribal Employment Rights Office, the trainings will offer tribal citizens the skills, certifications, and experience they need to take advantage of well-paying jobs with the Tribe and in the private sector.
“The Yurok citizens who complete the training will be able pursue career-level jobs to support their families. To me, this is one of the most important parts of this project,” said Yurok Tribal Council Member Ryan Ray, who represents the Requa District. “This project will also level the playing field for tribal entrepreneurs, who will be able to market their amazing products online for the first time.”
“The Yurok Telecommunications Corporation looks forward to implementing this much-needed project, we’ve been diligently preparing in hopes of receiving this funding.” said Kori Cordero, a Yurok Telecommunications Corporation representative. “The region has needed this infrastructure for a really long time and we can’t wait to begin the build.”
This project will substantially strengthen the tribal and local economies in the long term. Once the fiber optic cable is installed, the Tribe will offer broadband and interconnection services to residents, businesses, non-profits and government organizations. The Tribe will also have the ability to lease space and create additional revenue for infrastructure maintenance.
Extending from Damnation Creek in Del Norte County to the Little River in Humboldt County, Yurok ancestral territory is located in one of the most technologically underserved parts of the California. The big telecoms companies have made very few investments in this rural region because they can generate bigger profits in more populated places. On the reservation, the lack of reliable internet is the single biggest impediment to progress in several key areas, including: public health, education, economic development, emergency communications. There are numerous reservation residents who lack access to cellular and internet services. These residents, which include tribal elders, cannot call 911, participate in distance learning or schedule telehealth appointments.
Over the past decade, the Tribe has continuously increased access to broadband services. It began in 2009 with the creation of Yurok Connect and the deployment of some on-Reservation infrastructure. The Tribe has expanded from that first key infrastructure and in 2020, the Tribe installed a 150-foot tower in Wautec and elevated five existing telecoms towers. The Tribe is also a partner in the Klamath River Rural Broadband Initiative (KRRBI), a project led by the Karuk Tribe. Currently in the permitting phase, the KRRBI project will extend a fiber optic cable from Orleans to Orick. Once complete, the KRRBI fiber infrastructure will be jointly owned and managed by the Yurok Tribe and Karuk Tribe and will complement the Yurok fiber project between Orick and Crescent City.