Largest deployment in the United States on native lands delivering broadband data and voice to rural tribe members
Boca Raton, FL, December 3, 2009 – Airspan Networks Inc. (Pink Sheets: AIRO), a leading provider of broadband wireless access networks, and Stutler Technologies, one of the largest U.S. system integrators, announced today Sacred Wind Communications selected Airspan WiMAX equipment and Stutler Technologies’ system integration services for a rural broadband network offering connectivity throughout the Navajo nation’s territory in New Mexico.
Sacred Wind Communications purchased a dilapidated telephone system on a portion of Navajo lands in New Mexico in 2006 and is now building a state-of-the-art network for current customers as well as to reach over 6000 homes without access to telephone service of any kind, not to mention broadband connectivity. Over 50% of the customers are below federal poverty levels and few have ever touched a computer. Airspan WiMAX equipment, already well deployed by Stutler throughout rural America, will serve thousands of Navajo families with high-speed data and IP telephony. The advanced WiMAX technology will serve to change the lives of these families as, for the first time, these residents will have access to the World Wide Web, bridging the digital divide and expanding their educational and economic opportunities.
WiMAX technology perfectly suits rural regions, where digging and placing traditional wired lines is unfeasible and not cost-effective due to rough terrain and low population density. Airspan’s WiMAX solutions circumvent the high cost and topographical challenges normally associated with other broadband options. Stutler Technologies, with the help of Sacred Wind Communications, is responsible for the planning, deployment and maintenance of the Navajo project. Stutler is implementing Airspan’s dual-purpose Fixed and Mobile HiperMAX Base Station infrastructure for this large area deployment. Sacred Wind and Stutler have planned on connecting thousands of individual households and tribal centers using the Airspan technology. John Badal, CEO of Sacred Wind, stated, “As a longtime member of the New Mexico Telecommunications industry, I am strongly committed to the betterment of the Navajo people.
We have a clear vision for widely available connectivity throughout the territory. Sacred Wind has already received a low-interest $70 million loan from the USDA/RUS for this project and we have submitted an additional large stimulus application. We are convinced that we are in an ideal position to receive broadband stimulus funding to help us further expand our network. It is a real pleasure to work with Stutler and Airspan who we feel share in our vision and who are best qualified to serve our needs.”
“We are happy to have deployed Airspan equipment for this project,” said J.J. Stutler, CEO of Stutler Technologies. “We are committed to offering the Navajo, as well as our other customers, a turnkey networking solution that is cost-effective, robust and flexible. We hope and expect that with the delivery of broadband and telephony into this Navajo New Mexico region, economic conditions, education opportunities and the overall quality of life will be greatly improved.”
With $7.2 Billion recently allocated for rural broadband propagation in the United States by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Indian nations are in an ideal position to acquire federal funding for broadband networks in their regions and can use the Sacred Wind deployment as a blueprint for their own projects.
“We are delighted with Sacred Wind’s decision to choose Airspan’s technology and solution. Airspan is putting a strong focus on the U.S. rural broadband market segment,” commented Eric Stonestrom, Chief Executive Officer for Airspan. “We are working closely with several organizations, such as NEBSA, OPASTCO, WCAI and the WiMAX Forum to reach out to telecommunication companies in rural areas and educate them on WiMAX and its many benefits for their communities. We have already experienced extraordinary response from the market for our solutions and look forward to continuing to serve operators with best-of-breed WiMAX solutions.”
Sacred Wind Communications was recently voted “The Most Inspiring Small Business in America” in the “Shine a Light” American Express contest. American Express, in partnership with NBC Universal, accepted thousands of nominations of small businesses that are inspiring and give back to their community. After an extensive voting period, Sacred Wind had the distinct honor of winning the award and in addition to the title, received $100,000 in grants and marketing support.