Nerval's Lobster writes: The Navajo Nation cut the ribbon August 13 on an $8 million data center that has been under debate and development since 2000, when then-President Bill Clinton expressed shock that a 13-year-old Navajo girl who just won a new laptop couldn’t connect to the Internet. At the time that girl won the laptop in a school contest, the Navajo Nation--a 27,425 square-mile region that covers portions of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico--had barely any IT infrastructure. The incident helped drive debate among leaders of the Navajo Nation, many of whom said they believed adding telecommunications and computing facilities were secondary to other concerns for the chronically poverty stricken region. The 50,000-square-foot facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico includes 25,000-sq.-ft. of datacenter and an equal space for computer training and business incubation, according to Nova Corp., an IT services company owned by Navajo Nation and formed in 2004 to execute an IT plan to create the “Digital Navajo Nation” (PDF). The drive to get it built also helped push development of a $46 million broadband project designed to cover about half of Navajo territory with 550 miles of fiber, 32 new cell towers and upgrades to another 27. It will eventually connect more than 30,000 households and 1,000 businesses.