Snow Energy & Telecommunications was founded by Tomas Chacon. It is a veteran and Native-American owned business focused on providing internet and telecom solutions to rural and Native communities. Tomas is passionate about providing quality internet services as a way to improve the economic outlook for Native families and businesses. Snow Energy Telecom has worked with some of the largest internet service providers nationwide, including Comcast, COX, Spectrum, AT&T, and more to deliver Fiber Optic Construction, Engineering, Point to Multi-Point networking, and other services. Tomas is currently focused on providing internet and broadband services to areas lacking an internet connection.
We hope you enjoy learning more about tribal broadband and Snow Energy Telecom!
1. Tell us about yourself.
My Name is Tomas Chacon, and I am the Founder of Snow Energy Telecom, LLC where I serve as CEO and CTO. I was born and raised in California and I am an enrolled member of Three Affiliated Tribes—also known as the MHA Nation—in North Dakota. I am a veteran with extensive military training as an operations specialist.
2. Tell us about your business, Snow Energy Telecom.
Snow Energy Telecom LLC (SETLLC) is a continually active management company, providing a variety of communication services. SETLLC’s core business is consultation/construction management between MSO/ISP service companies and contractors. We have been building Metro and Urban Fiber Optic networks on the west coast for many years. These services include many levels of performance. SETLLC has also worked on many military bases as well upgrading existing networks.
SETLLC serves as a Telecom Broker company with affiliations to promote and sell 140 ISP/MSO service companies across the nation. The unique ability to train a select few individuals how to sell Telecom services is our number one priority.
Along with this SETLLC has participated in building E-RATE, DAS, Enterprising, SMART City, Pro-Builds, among others. I have 25 years of industry footprint in most large west coast cities including San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Jose, Lake Tahoe, Portland, and more. I also have many years of experience as a Project Manager providing additional telecom services. SETLLC has worked for SPECTRUM, COX, COMCAST, AT&T, FRONTIER, CROWN CASTLE, and WAVE BROADBAND, among others.
3. How have you seen the industry evolve?
SETLLC has weathered decades of new telecom development including tethered cell towers to Fiber Optic cabling and creating pathways for Mobile Fixed wireless. This industry is evolving with an ever-changing character that benefits commercial and residential communities, with respect to internet access. Yet, as many communities have multi-generation networks for internet and telephone access, underserved areas remain with limited or no service.
These rural areas and Indian Reservations do not have densely populated communities to attract the current service providers who are building networks to meet the 5G standards. Federal legislation, the Federal Communications Commission Tribal 2.5 Spectrum, and now the National Telecommunications and Information Administration have offered Billions of dollars for funding networks to these underserved areas without much success. Although funding helps, the problems with access are still present. The voices from those rural communities need to be understood and listened to.
4. How has COVID-19 affected your work and future outlook?
The COVID 19 pandemic compounds the need to have reliable internet access. Telehealth, telemedicine, education, tribal government operations, tribal elders; the whole health—including financial and physical wellbeing—of our communities is now based on reliable connectivity.
Because of this pandemic, the world has now experienced the connectivity issues that rural communities have faced for years. Unfortunately, Native Americans are mostly underserved – access to reliable networks will bring economic development, commercial opportunities, and better health and wellbeing to tribal members.
SETLLC would like to build and operate transfer networks for interested areas that are in need. To find solutions, we need to generate public opinion in these areas to support network establishment, and the money will follow. If the networks are not built there will never be economic change, and health benefits and financial hardship will continue. SETLLC has national support from national companies with engineering capability. We are currently proposing build-out plans that are hybrid and mesh networks which can use the many spectrums frequencies that are available from unlicensed and licensed spectrum.
5. How do you see the future of broadband and internet access in Indian Country?
The network providers build over builds; in some areas ten service providers have built fiber rings on top of each other, saturating metro areas to capture revenue streaming. Network providers focus on one thing: capitalizing on the lucrative, densely populated areas. Money is the driving force to build.
The underserved areas are mostly underdeveloped commercially and economically
depressed, leaving the digital divide gap to spread wider apart every year. The need to address these problems of rural townships and the lack of internet access is crucial. Addressing these problems will in turn help all economies. Serving underserved communities will benefit everyone; businesses located in rural areas will have better access to the internet and urban businesses will have new markets and customers.
I believe that in as little as one generation, Native Lands with decent internet connectivity will see a better future in all aspects of daily life. The internet will contribute to changing the future landscape for health providers, workers, students and people who work from home, Native e-commerce, and more. It could be life changing.
6. How can tribes take action?
Tribes can start with training programs. From an engineering perspective the return on investment can be curved and supply chains can be diversified to create manufacturing on our lands. Tribes have many young people who can receive engineering training and work towards degrees to help design and build networks. Others could learn to read prints to design and manufacture these supplies. Installation technicians and outside linemen, towermen, and many service personnel can learn life-changing skills and provide incomes for their families.
Tribal governments can own and operate their own networks or collaborate with a consortium to build networks. These newly built networks would generate revenue steaming opportunities to help economic growth on the reservations.
The existing wireless networks and fiber optic rings that are covering our nation can be utilized. The NTIA, FCC, and many more organizations are available to help with financing through grants, loans, and collaborative efforts. American Native lands and Non-Native communities can work together to share costs to build and get better services than what is provided in their community today. SETLLC can assist tribes should they be interested in a build out.
With respect to existing network providers, build out costs are expensive. The most important step is a feasibility assessment that should be written to fit the individual community. The assessment is what will determine how much bandwidth is needed and how we proceed to get tribal communities connected.
If we don’t take advantage of buildout opportunities now, it may not happen for many more decades – if ever. We need to change the idea of building out rural internet from profit first to service-first as an essential community utility. There are enough profits generated in e-commerce that we can give free internet to the elders and students and let commercial businesses pay for the networks. We need to start saying: let’s build networks for the community and for the health and financial welfare of tribal businesses and homes.
7. Anything else you’d like to add?
You can visit our website at www.snowenergytelecom.com to learn more about our services.