Tribal lands digital divide
Guests examine Dell computers at the Rincon Tribe’s new AT&T Connected Learning Center. Photo credit: Courtesy, AT&T

AT&T is opening a new learning center inside the Rincon Education Department at the Rincon reservation in Valley Center to provide residents with internet access and education tools.

This will be the first AT&T Connected Learning Center on tribal lands in the U.S., the fifth in California and the 21st nationwide. The center will allow students from tribal communities to get online, parents to look for jobs and the community to access resources to overcome “connectivity barriers.”

The opening of the center is part of the AT&T Connected Learning initiative and a $2 billion commitment from 2021 to 2023 to address the digital divide through internet accessibility and affordability in underserved communities.

In addition, the AT&T Foundation has made a $50,000 contribution towards Rincon Education Department programming.

According to a news release, more than 30% of the population on tribal lands do not have access to broadband infrastructure that provides minimally adequate speeds.

Chairman Bo Mazzetti of the Rincon Tribe said the center gives tribal members and lineals “limitless learning and exciting possibilities through the power of technology.”

“We are very excited to have the Connected Learning Center located right on our reservation,” he added. “This is an absolute dream come true for our seniors, youth and the many tribal members who for many years did not have access to technology for the use of gathering information.

In all, AT&T plans to launch more than 50 centers across the country, housed within local non-profit organizations that support communities in need.

“AT&T is committed to advance digital access across California and will continue to invest in community programs and services that expand access to high-speed fiber internet to more Californians,” said Marc Blakeman, AT&T California State president.

Dell Technologies also has donated Dell OptiPlex computers and monitors which feature integrated audio and webcams to support virtual learning.  World Wide Technology, the largest minority supplier of IT services globally, is providing configuration and installation services.

As a black-owned company, WWT is a part of AT&T’s Supplier Diversity Initiative and in collaboration with AT&T supports providing connectivity to all, including small and medium businesses, recreational facilities, educational institutions, and underserved communities.

Separately, AT&T is working with the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians on a multi-step process, including designing and engineering a fiber network on tribal lands that would connect more than 400 homes on the reservation to reliable high-speed, broadband Internet.

Additionally, the AT&T Foundation has granted $100,000 to the California Tribal Chairpersons Association to support their work on “the critical needs of California tribes.”