The Lac du Flambeau Tribe is proud to announce the creation of Ogema Communications LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the LDF Business Development Corporation.
Ogema Communications LLC, was born out of the Tribe’s Broadband Initiative, which is a collective effort between Gikendaasowin, the Tribe’s Education Department, and Access Engineering LLC, Nicolet College, the Vilas County Economic Development Corporation and the Town of Minocqua.
The formation of Ogema Communications LLC brings the goal of offering high-speed, broadband internet access to the Lakeland area one step closer to becoming a reality. The lack of reliable, high-speed, broadband internet service in the Northwoods has been a major obstacle in attracting businesses, and has been a contributing factor in the area’s sluggish job growth numbers.
Access Engineering, a leader in private fiber optic and wireless communications systems, has provided hands-on instruction to seven tribal members currently involved in the Education Department’s Broadband Apprenticeship Program. The Apprenticeship Program offers learning and skill development opportunities in all facets of the communications industry. This includes planning and logistics, and the daily operations of an internet service provider and telecommunications company.
Gikendaasowin Director, Joni Theobald and the Lac du Flambeau Tribal Council, in working collaboratively, saw the need for dependable, high speed internet access as an opportunity for not only the Tribe but the Northwoods as a whole.
“We knew the potential was there from every angle; it was just a matter of putting all the pieces together,” Theobald said. “We have a real opportunity for the Tribe to build a complete communications company which will serve the entire Lakeland area.”
Benefits of high speed internet access include new business development, business expansion, increased work potential, and enhanced public safety.
Tribal Chairman Tom Maulson spoke highly on this initiative.
“This is just another example of what Indian people can do when given an opportunity. We have great partners in this project and there’s no reason we can’t become the biggest and best communications provider in northern Wisconsin and beyond,” Maulson said.
Ogema Communications LLC will seek Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grant opportunities specifically earmarked for developing communications in Indian communities during the initial phases of the project, including the Tribal Mobility Project.
This project identifies that “approximately 29% of Americans residing on Tribal lands are without access to fixed broadband meeting the speed benchmark, compared to only 6% of Americans overall. The percentage of un-served Americans living on Tribal lands is approximately five times the national average”.
With the inception of Ogema Communications LLC and Gikendaasowin’s commitment to education, the Lac du Flambeau Tribe looks to reverse that trend.