Sadie Perry lives in New Mexico and often enjoys looking outside to see the beauty of nature. When she gets up in the morning, she goes outside to say a prayer over her family. The power of prayer is one of the only things that typically gets Perry through her days. She’s a tribal member who lives in an area of the Navajo Nation. There are only three buildings on the property along with two horses. There are 11 members of the same family that live in those buildings. Perry has six grandchildren and one daughter who all live within a few feet of each other. When Perry learned about the pandemic, she started gathering supplies that her family might need, such as enough food and gas to ensure that their generator could be used if it was needed. One of the things that she didn’t have was access to broadband internet.
When Perry met with the principal at Thoreau Middle School, she talked about her children only using computers while they were in their classes. The school is about four miles from Perry’s home, and although the school has broadband internet, she doesn’t have access to the internet service at her home. This is the reason why her children usually don’t do their schoolwork at home. The house itself doesn’t have the wiring needed for broadband. Since Perry is an assistant at the school, she was able to obtain a hotspot to take home in the middle of the pandemic before the 2020 school year started. However, the signal isn’t always that great, and she tends to lose connection while doing important tasks online. Even while using her cellphone to connect to the internet isn’t always the best because of the lack of towers in the area. There are days when the family would get in the car and drive to an area of town where they would have better service just so that they could do their schoolwork or communicate with other people. If they weren’t able to go anywhere or if the hotspot didn’t work one day, then the children wouldn’t complete their assignments.
Another issue with the property is that Perry lives in isn’t connected to the power grid in the area. This means that they don’t have a way to properly charge any of the equipment that’s needed to access the internet even if they did have broadband. When classes started in 2021, the children had probably missed about a year’s worth of work due to no power and no internet access.
About 77% of the homes in New Mexico have access to some type of internet service like Spectrum. Some reports indicate that this number could be lower than that. This is in comparison to roughly 85% of homes in the country that have internet. If homes have access, the price that they have to pay is often too expensive, which means that they aren’t able to connect to the internet even if they have the option. The landscape and the native lands in the state are factors in connecting. An option would be for the Federal Communications Commission to approve funding so that more lines could be run to homes that don’t have broadband. About $65 billion has been set aside in the recent infrastructure bill, which could be used to help states like New Mexico so that more people can get connected.