Internet Options for American Indian Lands


Mikayla Rivera
Jul 21, 2023
bullet7 min read

Do American Indian lands have internet?

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, as of 2019, only 65% of housing units on American Indian lands had access to broadband internet, compared to 99% in U.S. urban areas.

Many American Indian lands are located in remote areas, sometimes with rough terrain, which makes building out infrastructure difficult and expensive. That difficulty deters most land-based internet providers from bringing service to these areas. The resulting lack of high-speed internet contributes to the digital divide—or disparity of internet access—between those living on American Indian lands and the rest of the U.S.

Without reliable internet service, those living on American Indian lands face barriers to accessing information, public services, educational resources, and business opportunities.

Fortunately, more options and resources are available now than ever to help close this digital divide. These options include satellite internet, fixed wireless internet, LTE home internet, and additional benefits available to make internet service more affordable. 

Enter your zip code below to find internet providers in your area.

Satellite internet for American Indian lands

Satellite internet is often the best option for remote areas because it’s available where other internet service providers (ISPs) don’t reach. Depending on where you live and which internet service you choose, satellite internet download speeds and data limits could be your best option.

Best HughesNet internet plans for American Indian lands

HughesNet deals
Price
Check it out
HughesNet 50GB$49.99/mo.
HughesNet Fusion 100GB$89.99/mo.

HughesNet satellite internet is a good choice because of its broad coverage map. According to HughesNet, its service area covers the entire contiguous United States. HughesNet has no hard data limits, so if you exceed your monthly data plan, you don’t lose connectivity, but you may experience reduced data speeds during high-traffic periods.

There’s also good news for night owls and early risers: HughesNet offers a Bonus Zone with 50GB of free monthly data during off-peak hours between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m.

Satellite internet plans with HughesNet are best for home usage and low-bandwidth internet activities such as email, social media, and listening to music. If you want to watch streaming video services or need to make a lot of video calls, you should consider a higher-data option like the HughesNet Fusion 200GB plan. Just be aware that HughesNet Fusion plans are less available than the satellite-internet-only plans.

If you need higher amounts of data for educational purposes or running a small business, HughesNet’s max 25Mbps speeds aren’t the best choice. We recommend either Viasat or, if you can get it, Starlink for those needs. Read more about them below.

Viasat internet plans for American Indian Lands

Best Viasat plans
Price
Check it out
Choice 75$149.99/mo.
Choice 100Mbps/500GB$299.99/mo.

Like HughesNet, Viasat satellite internet service is a good option for American Indian lands because its satellite internet service is available to 99% of the U.S. population, making it an option where cable and DSL internet providers don’t offer service. 

Viasat costs are around the same as HughesNet for the same amount of data, but it delivers faster download speeds: up to 100Mbps, compared to HughesNet’s 25Mbps. Keep in mind that your exact plans and internet speeds will depend on your location, though.

With data limits up to 500GB and 100Mbps download speeds, Viasat can support at-home online education, power small schools on American Indian lands, or run a small business (you can finally run those credit card machines). There are even Viasat business plans available if needed. The only downside is that Viasat is costly.

Starlink truly offers the best of both worlds (HughesNet’s lower prices and Viasat’s higher speeds and data caps)—again, if you can get it. Check out more about it below.

Starlink internet plans for American Indian lands

Best Starlink plans
Price
Check it out
Starlink Residential$90–$120/mo. plus one-time equipment fee ($599 or $2,500)
Starlink Roam$150/mo. for Regional plan, plus one-time equipment fee ($599 or $2,500)

Starlink offers high-speed, low-latency satellite internet service that uses low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites, so its service is faster and more reliable than other satellite internet options. Unfortunately, it’s not yet available all over the U.S.

According to the Starlink coverage map as of April 2023, much of Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and areas east of the Mississippi are still on a waitlist for Starlink internet service. American Indian lands in those areas will have to wait a bit longer to experience Starlink.

Even if Starlink internet service isn’t available in your area, it’s worth checking so you can get on the Starlink waitlist and gain access to the service once it opens up. With Starlink’s $90 to $120 monthly plan (depending on how congested the network is or will be in your area), you’ll get 1TB of data and up to 100Mbps speeds without a contract. That much data and speed can smoothly power your online gaming, TV streaming, online education, educational facilities, and business transactions.

So overall, if your home is on the coverage map, and you can pay $599 upfront for hardware, Starlink could be the best, fastest option for your area. We recommend getting it if you can.  

DSL internet for American Indian lands

DSL provider
Price
Speeds
Check it out
Frontier$64.99Check with provider
CenturyLink$50/mo. for no data limitsUp to 100Mbps

Digital subscriber line internet (DSL internet) uses phone lines to deliver high-speed internet service, and it’s available through larger internet service providers like CenturyLink and Frontier or many local DSL providers. Unfortunately, AT&T no longer offers DSL internet.

But when it comes to DSL, we highly suggest looking into more local providers, like Hopi Telecommunication (which services Hopi Nation land with DSL internet, select satellite internet options, and voice options). DSL technology is a bit more accessible because it’s older, so you’re more likely to find local providers with this equipment than, say, fiber.

DSL isn’t nearly as fast as cable or fiber, but it isn’t as expensive as satellite internet. It also doesn’t suffer from the same latency issues as 5G and 4G LTE home internet. Depending on where you live and which ISPs are available, DSL could be faster than satellite internet service or fixed wireless internet and without data limits.

Research your options based on your home address to see which DSL internet service is available where you live.

Enter your zip code below to find some of the best DSL providers in your area.

Fixed wireless home internet for American Indian lands

The fastest types of broadband internet, such as cable from companies like Xfinity or fiber from companies like AT&T, Google Fiber, or Frontier Fiber, are often unavailable on American Indian lands. If you can’t get these traditional options at your home, fixed wireless internet may be another possibility.

With fixed wireless internet, you get internet service provided via wireless phone airwaves like a cellular data plan, with an antenna attached to your home to help boost the signal. 4G LTE home internet is one type of fixed wireless home internet service, but providers like T-Mobile are now offering 5G home internet  with download speeds ranging from 33–182Mbps with no data limits.

Provider
Price
Speeds
Check it out
T-Mobile 5G Home Internet $50/mo. w/ Autopay33–182Mbps
Rise Broadband Starting at $35 per monthUp to 250Mbps
Verizon Home InternetStarting at $25/mo. w/ Autopay and qualifying Verizon mobile phone plan300Mbps
Check your ZIP code to see if you can get fixed wireless internet in your area.

Fixed wireless internet is available through large wireless carriers such as AT&T , T-Mobile, Verizon, and smaller companies like Rise Broadband.

However, not all rural areas can get fixed wireless internet service—it depends on which service providers are available in your area. Exact details, data limits, and download speeds will depend on where you live and whether you use a larger provider or local one like Sacred Wind Communications (which offers fixed wireless and fiber internet to 22 Navajo Nation chapters). 

If you don’t have a larger provider near you, or you don’t want satellite internet, we suggest checking out the search tool above.

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal program that helps lower-income people get home internet service at an affordable price. The ACP is for all parts of America, not just for those living on American Indian lands, but you can get special additional benefits if you do live in these areas.

The ACP Enhanced Tribal Benefit includes up to $75 per month in discounts on internet service, and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop, or tablet (with a small co-pay). These benefits could help you get home internet service for $0 per month. 

Many national and local internet service providers (ISPs) participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, including HughesNet and Viasat. However, Starlink is missing from the FCC list of participating providers as of April 2023.

What is the Tribal Broadband connectivity program?

American Indian lands face unique challenges in getting access to high-speed internet service. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP) is a $3 billion federal government initiative to provide funding directly to American Indian governments to help them close this digital divide.

As of November 2022, and according to the Department of Commerce, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP) has awarded $1.5 billion to 112 American Indian governments and entities to help build and expand broadband internet infrastructure on their lands.

What is the Tribal Broadband Summit?

The latest National Tribal Broadband Summit took place in September 2022. Attendees included leaders, policymakers, and experts from American Indian councils, state and federal governments, and private sector partner organizations. The goal of the summit was to share ideas and strategies to build more broadband infrastructure and improve access to high-speed internet on American Indian lands.

Internet on American Indian Lands Statistics

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, 35% of people on American Indian lands lack access to broadband internet.

A recent study from the American Indian Policy Institute (AIPI) also found the following:

  • About 18% of American Indian land residents have no home internet connection at all.
  • Approximately 33% of the residents get home internet access via smartphone.
  • Roughly 31% of respondents living on American Indian lands said that their home internet connection was “spotty” or that they had no reliable connection.
  • Only 12% of people living on American Indian lands have cable internet subscriptions.
  • In comparison, 97.9% of Americans in major metropolitan areas have access to high-speed fixed broadband internet services.

Internet options for American Indian Lands FAQ

Are there Nez Perce tribe internet options?

Yes, Nez Perce Systems  provides home internet service for people on the Nez Perce reservation. Basic wireless internet plans start at $25 per month, and high-speed fiber-optic internet plans start at $45 per month.

Does the Navajo Nation have internet?

Yes, the Navajo Nation has internet access, but like many other rural areas and American Indian lands, internet connectivity can be inconsistent and unreliable, especially in sparsely populated areas. Fortunately, there is still cell phone service and Sacred Wind Communications offers fixed wireless or fiber internet to 22 chapters of the Navajo Nation. 

American Indian leaders continue working to improve broadband infrastructure and cellular service to this area. In August 2022, the Navajo Nation received  a $50 million federal grant from the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program to fund 63 broadband infrastructure projects. 

Is there cell service on the Navajo Nation reservation?

Yes, the Navajo Nation gets cellular phone service from Navajo-owned Choice Wireless and other cellular providers such as Cellular One, AT&T, and Verizon.

Mikayla Rivera
Written by
Mikayla Rivera
Mikayla Rivera has worked as an editor for nine years on websites like Reviews.org, HowtoWatch.com, and CableTV.com. As someone who grew up with little to no internet access, she knows how vital it is for education, work, and even play. She’s now determined to help readers get reliable internet speeds, wherever they live. Her passion for internet accessibility, memes, and ethical marketing is rivaled only by her dedication to The Chicago Manual of Style. When Mikayla isn’t managing SatelliteInternet.com, she’s writing novels of her own.