Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa has filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to become an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC), the company said.
The band will provide telecommunications services under a newly formed corporation called, Aaniin, offering affordable high-speed fiber-optic services — voice, video and up to 1 GB speed broadband — to more than 1,800 homes and anyone who lives in the network´s roughly 120-square-mile service area, regardless of whether they are band members. Aaniin is the only tribally owned and operated high-speed fiber-optic system provider in Minnesota.
EFC designation will allow low-income customers of Aaniin to benefit from the tribal Lifeline program, which lowers the monthly cost of phone and Internet access. Eligible customers receive basic services at a reduced cost of USD 9.25 per month. With Aaniin, Lifeline program customers will receive broadband and voice service at the subsidized cost.
The fiber-optic system is built on the Fond du Lac Reservation and the construction is funded by a series of grants, including from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The project represents a total investment of USD 12.4 million. The all-new installation is in progress with pilot testing expected to begin later this year.
The Fond du Lac Band is one of six Chippewa Indian member bands that make up the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. The Fond du Lac Reservation was established by the La Pointe Treaty of 1854. Archaeologists, however, maintain that ancestors of the present-day Chippewa (Ojibwe) have resided in the Great Lakes area since 800 A.D. Today, the Band includes over 4,200 members. The Ojibwe name for the Fond du Lac Reservation is “Nagaajiwanaang”, which means “where the water stops.”