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Half a million miles of fiber optic cable have been laid on the Wind River Reservation

Wind River Internet in Riverton Wyoming, early spring 2022.
Taylar Stagner

Some of the state's best internet is on the Wind River Reservation. There's around half a million miles of fiber cables on the Reservation right now. In 2019, the Federal Communications Commission gave $4 millionto better internet infrastructure on the Wind River Reservation. By the time the project is done around five thousand homes on the reservation will have fiber optic capacity.

Patrick Lawson, the executive manager of Wind River Internet Industries and a member of the Wyoming Broadband Advisory Council, said he sees Wyoming’s next boom being technology, not energy.

“Because, we get wide open spaces and a really low cost of living. And we're gonna have and we already do have some of the best connectivity in the world right here in Wyoming,” Lawson said.

Fiber optic internet moves at a rate comparable to the speed of light and once the project is complete there will be three million miles of fiber optics on the reservation.

The efforts are supported by the FCC’s Connect America Fund that helps rural spaces receive better internet access. Many tribes across the nation have been left out of expanding internet coverage.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.

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