For Immediate Release

March 26, 2014

Contact:  Mary Anne Ostrom, Director of Communications

Cell: 510-381-3070


California Emerging Technology Fund Names

Tribal Leaders 2014 Broadband Champions

Karuk and Yurok Tribes Act to Close the Digital Divide in Humboldt County


Los Angeles and San Francisco, CA – March 26, 2014 – The California Emerging Technology Fund is pleased to announce Karuk Tribe Informational Technology Director Eric Cutright and Yurok Tribe Information Service Director Paul Romero are 2014 Broadband Champions.  Fifteen individuals are being recognized for their groundbreaking work and strong commitment to close the Digital Divide. 

The Champions were selected in consultation with dozens of broadband leaders, community advocates and state and local policymakers.  The 15 individuals are featured in the California Emerging Technology Fund 2013-2014 Annual Report and will be recognized at events in San Francisco on March 27 and in Pasadena on May 19.

“We congratulate Eric, Paul and all of the Broadband Champions.  From Humboldt to Hollywood, from El Centro to Oakland, they are representatives of trailblazers who work throughout California and beyond to point the way for policymakers to understand the opportunities afforded by information technology and high-speed Internet access,” said CETF President and CEO Sunne Wright McPeak.  “The Champions also share the moral imperative not to leave anyone behind or offline.  Each of these individuals inspires us to act to close the Digital Divide,” she said.  Photo of Tribal Leaders and the full list of recipients are available on request.

Eric Cutright and Paul Romero:  Bringing 21st Century Technology to Tribes

For hundreds of far Northern California residents, living with no regular cell service, no high-speed Internet, not even reliable landline phone service is common.  Orleans, tucked away in northeast Humboldt County, is home to members of the Karuk Tribe. After years of unmet promises for better service, the tribe, led by Tribe Informational Technology Director Eric Cutright, decided to become the Internet Service Provider .  Funding was hard to come by, so Eric teamed with Paul Romero, Information Service Director of the neighboring Yurok Tribe.  In 2013, the California Public Utilities Commission approved $6.6 million to help fund the Klamath River Rural Broadband Initiative Project – an 80-mile fiber optic route from Orleans to Humboldt Bay. Upon completion, planned for October 2015, more than 600 unserved and underserved households will have reliable communications. “It’s going to be life-saving,” says Eric.


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