PHOTO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) hosts the National Tribal Telecommunications Association, July 23, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) hosted the National Tribal Telecommunications Association (NTTA) in his Washington, D.C. office. The NTTA is in Washington this week to work on telecommunications issues affecting Indian Country and thanked Senator Heinrich for his leadership on rural broadband.
Senator Heinrich recently secured a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill to allow communications companies that serve tribal communities in New Mexico, such as Mescalero Apache Telecom Inc. and Sacred Winds Communications, to refinance loans borrowed from USDA's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) at a lower interest rate. The RUS helps finance improvements to electric, telecommunications, water, and sewer infrastructure in underserved rural and tribal communities. In New Mexico, this could help tribal providers lower interest rates, allowing them to provide improved infrastructure to consumers.
“Access to high-speed internet is increasingly essential to daily life and brings unprecedented economic opportunities for users, especially for people living in remote areas,” said Senator Heinrich. “I’m pleased to have secured a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill to allow Tribes to refinance broadband and telephone loans, which will not only save the Tribes money but also increase critical access to high-speed broadband in Indian Country.”
“We are grateful for Senator Heinrich's leadership on Tribal broadband issues,” said Godfrey Enjady, General Manager of Mescalero Apache Telecom and President of the National Tribal Telecommunications Association. “The ability to refinance our existing loans will be of great benefit.”