Wireless-broadband and satellite provider LightSquared will donate satellite phones and associated services to the Indian Health Service (IHS) — the lead federal agency to serve health needs of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) people — for use in AI/AN communities. All satellite phones will come with service provided free of charge through 2020 to address the lack of reliable telecommunications connectivity, which often plagues tribal communities.

To kickoff this nationwide effort, LightSquared and IHS staff are working together to develop communication and deployment plans which incorporate tribal governments’ input for the satellite phones. They anticipate establishing a pilot program for initial deployment of satellite equipment and service later this fall with the IHS Albuquerque Area Office that serves four hospitals, 11 health centers and 12 field clinics located in New Mexico, Colorado and Texas. The use of mobile satellite phones will expand levels of connectivity to ensure that vital health services are fulfilled in underserved communities.

LightSquared will provide up to 2,000 satellite phones and service to this project, depending on the requirements of IHS.