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Promise Of "Internet To The Hogan" Begins Delivery Of Key Services To Remote Navajo Nation


Window Rock Chapter House Serves as Model for IP Benefits Via Cisco Network.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM, April 18, 2006 - Cisco today announced the completion of the initial implementation of the first IP network for the Navajo Nation. The entire IP network of 660 phones will eventually serve all 110 chapter houses of this 27,000 square mile, three-state nation, much of which is still not served by electricity or paved roads. Cisco made the announcement at its “Connected Communities” event today in Albuquerque highlighting the community benefits being delivered by Internet Protocol, or IP, capabilities, to a range of public and private sector organizations.

Cisco is continuing to work with the Navajo Nation of 250,000 citizens to bring a range of benefits to this remote and underserved population. The “Internet to the Hogan” is an overall initiative to drive connectivity to families in remote areas, including to Chapter Houses and the hogan, which is a traditional Navajo dwelling. Before the introduction of the IP network, Nation residents had to spend up to 12 hours traveling great distances just for access to social, health, educational and informational services. Now with the roll-out of this network, expected to be fully complete in the next 12 months, Navajo Nation residents will have quick and easier access to numerous services using voice, video and data on a single line, all at a greatly reduced cost:

- Distance learning teleconferencing will feature classes from the major universities near the Nation, including Arizona State University, University of Arizona, University of New Mexico and the University of Utah.

- Telemedicine will allow medical patients to receive superior health care via access to doctors in numerous large medical facilities in larger urban areas.

- - School children who travel as much as four hours daily on a bus to attend school will have after-hours access to the Internet for homework, ensuring that they keep pace with students in more populous areas.

Elderly populations, many of whom speak only the Navajo dialect, will have access to information on agriculture in their native language.

- Central government services such as housing, children’s health insurance, e-government, job listings and voting will be as close as the nearest chapter House, versus hours away or even unavailable for those with no access to vehicles.

“Just as the Navajo Nation only recently upgraded itself by moving from the horse and wagons to the automobiles, it’s the same with the Internet,” said Harold Skow, director of information technology for the Navajo Nation. “The benefits of adoption are enormous for our people in terms of education, economic development, access to vital services, preservation and furtherance of our culture. And the savings will allow us to not only use the funds for other resources but also perhaps generate much-needed revenue streams.” The Navajo Nation expects to save as much as 75 per cent over present network costs for this greatly enhanced network and its related capabilities when the network implementation is completed.

Last month, the Navajo Nation began providing voice services over the network using Cisco Unified CallManager and Cisco Unity Voicemail servers in the central government offices in Window Rock, the Nation’s headquarters. The White Rock Chapter house was the first of 110 chapter houses to receive IP telephony and video services. Residents can come to the Chapter House to make free phone calls to any other Chapter House in the entire three-state Navajo Nation because the calls travel over the IP network.

“It is exciting and fulfilling to work with the Navajo Nation to create such a robust, efficient network capable of delivering such enormous benefits to this remote population,” said Bruce Klein, vice president of federal operations for Cisco. “The Navajo Nation is joining the many federal, state and local governments moving to IP for the numerous advantages and the cost savings. These benefits will increase dramatically at the end of the year when the network is fully in place and serving all 110 Chapter Houses.”

IT Director Skow noted that he expects additional benefits down the line to include:

- A Navajo Nation Web portal offering e-commerce and access to numerous government services

- Tourism enhancement by promoting Navajo crafts as well as vacation sites

- Job creation by developing an IT work force and call centers for the Navajo Nation

- Connections to a vast store of information about other tribes and Navajo peoples, thus preserving and promoting the culture, both within and outside the Nation

- Disaster recovery capabilities, a significant improvement over the present method of dropping leaflets into remote sites

Also present at the Albuquerque event was New Mexico State Senator Leonard Tsosie, who is a champion of the Internet to the Hogan legislation that brought the network to the Navajo Nation. “The Internet to the Hogan project seeks to bridge the digital divide in a culturally sensitive manner and tries not to leave a Hogan behind,” said Senator Tsosie. “The project benefits all citizens in or near Navajo Indian country, with inferences to services for children and health care. This project has great potential for services to all citizens.”

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