Press Release

Tohatchi, New Mexico and Milpitas, California — March 27, 2024 — Choice Broadband, the wireless broadband branch of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, and Tarana, creator of next-generation fixed wireless access (ngFWA) technology, have officially launched a new ngFWA broadband network in Tohatchi, New Mexico. This is the first of many upgraded networks that will equip residents and businesses of Navajo Nation, the largest indigenous tribe in the United States, with reliable, high-speed internet.

In Tohatchi, rocky terrain and significant distances between homes makes trenching fiber for broadband access extremely costly. Tarana’s ngFWA is the first wireless broadband solution to deliver fiber-class broadband at great distances despite radio interference or physical obstructions, enabling internet service providers to deploy affordable, quality internet service in hard-to-reach areas.

In fact, Choice Broadband was able to expand their coverage footprint to nearly 400 previously unreachable locations with ngFWA. Now those unserved families, along with other underserved Tohatchi residents that were limited to 9 Mbps download speeds before Tarana, can get 100 Mbps immediately — with speeds up to a gigabit coming soon.

Deenise Becenti, the NTUA’s Government and Public Affairs Manager, was born and raised in Tohatchi. Although fiber was deployed along a nearby highway in 2013, the cost of fiber-to-the-home has prohibited residents from experiencing true broadband. Over a decade later, Becenti expressed her gratitude toward community leadership and the new technology for “opening the wireless broadband door and granting Tohatchi the chance to catch up to the rest of America.”

This upgraded ngFWA network is already making a crucial impact on Tohatchi’s local economy, public safety, access to telehealth, and online education. For instance:

  • A family-owned convenience store now has access to adequate internet for the first time ever.
  • Local entrepreneurs and small business owners are expanding the reach of their jewelry and artwork sales through e-commerce, and are now able to accept credit card payments instead of cash only.
  • Rural residents no longer need to drive into town or up a hill to get word out in an emergency.
  • The EMT and police department command centers are being upgraded to the reliable connectivity that is critical to their operation.
  • Tohatchi locals, who are often referred out to larger cities for their medical needs, can attend virtual appointments.
  • Navajo students have better access to online college courses and other e-learning opportunities.

Frank Chiapetti, a Choice Broadband Customer and Principal of Tohatchi’s Ch’ooshgai Community School, shared, “The main thing is to be able to work from home — it definitely improved my life. I can stream music, video, while still working on my laptop… there are no slowdowns. The download and upload speeds are phenomenal — nothing that we’ve been able to get in Tohatchi before.”

At the ribbon-cutting event for the network launch on March 14th, Scott Horne, CEO of Commnet Broadband (parent company of Choice Broadband) said, “This is the first wireless broadband capable of 100+ Mbps speeds. Tarana’s technology is truly opening doors that were previously closed and changing the lives of the Navajo people. We’re excited to launch this site today, but we also understand there is much more work to be done.” Choice Broadband plans to launch 10 additional ngFWA-backed broadband networks in various Navajo Nation communities this year.

Basil Alwan, Tarana CEO, added, “We are so proud to be partnering with Choice Broadband. The Tohatchi deployment embodies our joint commitment to serving tribal communities with reliable broadband and reaching the underserved as soon as possible. We look forward to helping the Choice team accelerate their work throughout Navajo Nation with ngFWA.”

Press Release

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