Here is a compilation of articles featuring the recent Warm Springs Telecom ribbon cutting ceremony on the Warm Springs Reservation.
Cascade Business News
Tribal Telecom Begins New Service for Warm Springs Reservation
Jan 12, 2012
Warm Springs Telecom will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony at the new tribal telecom company’s central office and customer service center on Friday, January 27 at 11:30am, followed by an afternoon of activities and food for the community to celebrate the newest tribal telecom company in the United States. The WST office is located at 4202 Holliday Street, Warm Springs (on the Warm Springs Reservation).
After more than five years of planning, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs in Oregon is now the 9th tribal telecom company in the country. Like many tribes across the United States, members of the tribal nation have been underserved by the telecom companies serving the community. Rather than waiting for improvements, the Tribes decided to take control of their telecom future and build their own company that will offer basic land-line wired telephone service and broadband, high-speed Internet access.
“Telecommunications is a critical infrastructure that we can’t continue to live without,” says WST Board Chair Sylvester “Sal” Sahme. “Education, jobs, healthcare and economic development all rely on having sophisticated telecommunications. We can’t afford to lag further behind other Americans. We needed to do this and build out this new company to serve our people and bring us into future. This is an exciting day for our Tribes.”
WST Operations Manager, Jose Matanane, formerly the General Manager for tribally owned Fort Mojave Telecom, told people at a recent meeting that, “when I started at Ft. Mojave, we had many of the same problems as Warm Springs now has, including very high unemployment. Not only did the tribal telco create jobs, but it created opportunities for tribal members and businesses to use the network to expand their personal businesses and the Tribe to do further economic development. The unemployment rate has gone down at Ft. Mojave as the phone company built out its network. “
WSTC will build a state-of-the-art fiber and fixed wireless network and eventually serve everyone on the Reservation with telephone and broadband. As it also has received its federal Eligible Telecommunications Carrier certification (ETC), the company will also be able to offer eligible Tribal members telephone services for $1/month.
Located in Central Oregon, the 1,000 square mile Reservation of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs is home to the Wasco, Paiute and Warm Springs Tribes. 5,000 members and others live on the very rural Reservation. The Tribes have historically relied on timber harvest and hydro-generation as revenue sources. The launch of this new tribal enterprise positions the Tribes to become a leader in advanced telecommunications services.
Under the aegis of Warm Springs Ventures, the economic development corporation of the Tribes, tribal leaders has been working on this project for more than 5 years. Jeff Anspach, CEO of Warm Springs Telecom explained, “One of Ventures’ roles on the reservation is to provide a greenhouse for tribal startups. In this capacity we are able to provide administrative support to the Telco in the pre-operational phase of its development until it can stand on its own two feet.”
After receiving planning dollars from federal agencies, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Economic Development Administration (EDA), Warm Springs Telecom received $5.6 million from the ARRA Broadband Stimulus Fund in 2010, also from RUS. This enabled the years of planning to come to fruition as the new tribally owned company will soon offer services to individuals, tribal agencies and businesses.
“Access to broadband will help small businesses improve operations, strengthen distribution channels, increase efficiencies, and gain access to the global marketplace,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker. “In short, this project will stimulate economic development and is a terrific example of how President Obama has made it a priority to grow jobs in rural America.”
The creation of the Warm Springs Telecom represents the goals of the stimulus money released by the Obama administration. With extremely high unemployment on the Reservation, the creation of this company is an economic development engine that has created jobs employing tribal members. Money has also flowed to other local companies, including Steele and Associates Architects of Bend, who designed the new company’s central office and customer service center; general contractor, Kirby Nagelhout, and the numerous subcontractors needed for the construction of the building; and Bridge City Furniture of Portland, who furnished the building with funds from this award.
The Warm Springs Telecommunications Company (WSTC) is a tribally chartered enterprise whose mission is to bring advanced broadband services to the Warm Springs Reservation, including voice and broadband Internet access.
The Madras Pioneer
Holly M. Gill
February 01, 2012
With a major broadband project nearing completion on the reservation, the Warm Springs community marked the grand opening of Warm Springs Telecom’s central office on Friday, with a day-long celebration.
“The tribes have just now entered the 21st century,” said Jeff Anspach, chief executive officer of Warm Springs Telecommunications Co., noting that the project opens the reservation for business opportunities.
“It fills me with joy and apprehension,” he said, explaining that he’s excited that the infrastructure is nearly in place, but apprehensive about how the completed project will be received.
“We absolutely need support from all of you,” said Anspach. “We want to make it an example for the rest of Indian country to follow.”
The celebration was the culmination of a decade of work to bring wireless communication to the reservation.
In August 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development announced that Warm Springs would receive over $5.4 million from funds authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Eight months later, the tribes broke ground on the project, which included upgrades to the reservation’s existing wireless tower, construction of four new towers, and remodeling of a former housing factory to house Warm Springs Telecom and Warm Springs Construction Enterprise.
Located on Holliday Street in the Warm Springs Industrial Site, the newly remodeled 8,932-square-foot building now houses the Warm Springs Telecom’s data communications center and office space.
“We’re bringing broadband coverage to 1,000 square miles,” said Jose Matanane, operations manager for Warm Springs Telecom.
Matanane, who managed another tribally-owned telecommunication company on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation before accepting the local position eight months ago, expects to serve about 900 subscribers when all the towers are up and running.
The towers, which will be shared with public safety and phone service, will improve band width, connection speeds, and download speeds for the reservation’s 5,000 or so residents.
Starting with opening prayers at 11 a.m., the event included a welcome by Sal Sahme, chairman of the Warm Springs Telecommunications Board, luncheon, numerous speakers, and a ribbon-cutting by Miss Warm Springs Chloe Suppah.
Special guest speaker Dallas Tonsager, under secretary for USDA Rural Development, said that his agency has been charged with building rural facilities, including electrical, water and communication systems.
“Rural America has special challenges,” he said. “Tribal America has very special challenges. This project looks like it’s going to benefit virtually every member of Warm Springs.
Dr. Mark O’Hollaren, vice president of Oregon Health and Science University, which provides outreach to the tribes, was on hand to congratulate the tribes on their new telecom.
“This could do much more for the health of your community than I think you realize,” he said, noting that it would encourage economic development and education.
Comparing the reservation to a human body, O’Hollaren said, “Indian culture is the heart of the body here on the reservation, but you can’t get along without the nervous system. The nervous system is communication.”
With broadband service across the reservation, the tribes gain access to “the world’s learning,” he said. “It may seem distant from health, but I think, in fact, it’s central to improving the health of your community.”
Anspach applauded the Tribal Council’s unwaivering support for the project. “This is a really good example of the definition of ‘doing,'” he said.
Warm Springs gets broadband
Residents, officials dedicate new telecommunications headquarters
By Rachael Rees / The Bulletin
Published: January 30. 2012 4:00AM PST
WARM SPRINGS — Ten years ago, only homes in certain areas on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation had telephone service.
But within months, many will have access to high-speed Internet, allowing them to access YouTube, Facebook and Netflix.
Community members and government officials gathered Friday to celebrate the start of a new era with a ribbon cutting at the Warm Springs Telecommunications Co., the ninth tribally owned telecom company in the United States.
Time-honored tradition blended with the 21st centuryas residents performed ceremonial dances and blessed with prayers the new building on Holliday Street that will provide the reservation with new telephone and Internet service.
The telecommunications company will create the infrastructure to help build businesses that can generate revenue and income, said Sal Sahme, director of business and economic development for the Confederated Tribes of Warms Springs — everything from tourism to Web-based companies operating out of homes.
“It will create the stepping stone to those other kinds of expanded businesses,” he said.
Warm Springs Telecom expects to start providing high-speed Internet to area residents in late February, and telephone services by the end of March, said Gabriel Walker, its sales and marketing coordinator.
Walker said towers have been built on Eagle Butte, which will serve the more rural areas of the community, and Miller Flat, which will serve the central area.
Tribal members began planning a new telephone company 10 years ago, and phone service has improved since then, but Warm Springs Telecom will expand it to areas that still do not have it, he said.
Jeannie Brisbois, of Warm Springs, said the slow and unreliable Internet service has made her job at the vehicle pool a struggle for years.
“You’re in the middle of something and then the service stops on you or stalls, and then you lose it,” she said. “It’s time-consuming and frustrating.”
Brisbois, 51, said she hopes the new services will allow more people to experience the Internet, and also bring revenue to the tribes and help create jobs.
“I’m excited about faster Internet speeds so people can message each other and look up things without having to wait and wait and wait,” she said.
For the past 10 years, members of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs represented other Oregon tribes in statewide efforts to obtain broadband services, said Christopher Tamarin, telecommunications strategist for the Oregon Business Development Department.
“They’ve been engaged in this whole effort to expand the availability of broadband services throughout the state,” he said. “Tribal lands are traditionally underserved areas, so this is a milestone.”
Adam Haas, general manager for Warm Springs Telecom, said $5.4 million in grants and loans from the federal government, along with $750,000 from the Warm Springs tribes, helped pay for the project.
While the service will only serve the community initially, Haas said he hopes that one daya fiber-optic ring will surround the reservation, along with fiber optics leading from the reservation to Madras.
The Internet has become the global platform for business and communications, Tamarin said. Broadband Internet access is viewed as essential infrastructure for economic activity, much like roads, bridges and water systems.
“Twenty-five years ago, to be credible in business you had to be in the Yellow Pages,” he said. “Today, if you’re gong to be credible you have to have a presence on the Internet.”
Tamarin said the next step will be to have tribal members embrace and use the technology.
“Now the question is, what are they going to do with it, and what’s it going to produce?” he said.
Dallas Tonsager, undersecretary for the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Rural Development agency, said the services will help improve economic development, education and health care, and it will provide a way for the tribes to share their culture with other communities.
“You think about what broadband does for people everywhere, every day,” said Tonsager, who is based in Washington, D.C. “People in their homes have Internet access and email access and communications access and business people can purchase and sell and develop new businesses.”
This is one of those very basic things that everybody should have, said Tonsager, whose agency provided the $5.4 million for the project from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Currently, the agency has 300 projects under way to bring broadband to rural areas across the country, he said, but Warm Springs Telecom is one of the first to be built.
“I think what this really does is set a great example for tribal leadership, for community leadership on reservations, that maybe they, too, can take up the cause and help their community.”
— Reporter: 541-617-7818,
Warm Springs Telecom Open for Business
One-Third of Tribeal Members Don’t Have Phone Access
By Shanna Mendiola, KTVZ.COM
POSTED: 6:05 pm PST January 27, 2012
UPDATED: 6:41 pm PST January 27, 2012
WARM SPRINGS, Ore. — A breakthrough celebrated Friday in Warm Springs: Access to phone and internet service will now be widely available for tribal members thanks to their very own, tribally owned telecommunications company.
Warm Springs Telecom opened their doors Friday in a grand opening ceremony.
After five years of planning, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs became the ninth tribe to start up their own telecommunications company.
Warm Springs leaders say it’s a big step in connecting them beyond the reservation and improving their economy.
“I get to give back to my people here on the reservation,” said Gabriel Walkier, a tribal member and now sales and marketing coordinator for Warm Springs Telecom.
“Having the ability to come back and work for the people for the reservation and bring back the experience I’ve had off the reservation,” Walker said.
About one-third of people living on the Warm Springs Reservation don’t have access to phone or Internet service. Now, everyone will get access to basic telephone service and broadband, high-speed Internet.
“I’m an entrepreneur, and I would like to use the access to the Internet, and I’m also sure a lot of people would feel the same way,” said James Greely, a Warm Springs tribal member.
“I am really excited for the Internet,” said reservation resident Amanda Frank. “I have been waiting to use the Internet for the past five years, to do some homework and other business stuff, and I haven’t been able to do it.”
The tribe received planning dollars for the project from federal agencies including the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Officials with the USDA say the move is important, to be competitive in the world.
“The president spoke the other night (in his State of the Union address) about building an America that lasts, and economy that lasts for America,” said Dallas Tonsager the USDA’s undersecretary for rural development
“I think this is a fundamental part of that.”
Walker said, “Before that, there was no sort of broadband Internet out here on the reservation. And now, since we’re able to bring it fully here, reaching out parts where no ones ever had it, the broadband is going to be major for them, so they can connect, like I said, back to the world.”
Work to start connecting the area to the service starts this week, and Warm Springs Telecom hopes to get everyone connected to phone and Internet service within a year.