The Bureau of Indian Affairs has announced $2.7 million in National Tribal Broadband Grants to 18 Tribes and Tribal organizations.

The National Tribal Broadband Grant Program enables Tribes to receive funding for a variety of uses, including driving economic development and commercial activity, developing opportunities for self-employment, improving educational resources and remote learning opportunities, and meeting emergency and law enforcement needs.

The grants are valued from $120,000 to $175,000. They will provide two years of funding for feasibility studies for the installation or expansion of broadband internet. The feasibility study can be used in a variety of ways — assess the current broadband services, if any, that are available to an applicant’s community; an engineering assessment of new or expanded high-speed services; to determine the cost of building or expanding a broadband network; exploring the transmission media to be used; identification of potential funding; and consideration of financial and practical risks associated with developing a broadband network.

“Indian Affairs recognizes internet access is essential to Tribal sovereignty, economic development, education, public safety, and cultural preservation,” Onna LeBeau, Office of Indian Economic development director, said in a prepared statement. “This funding will promote economic development in Indian Country as we work to close the digital divide.”

The Bureau of the Indian Affairs is not the only government agency awarding money for tribal broadband; the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has a program that to date has awarded $1.77 billion to 157 Tribal entities. The funds are being used to reduce monthly Internet service costs, plan for future Internet infrastructure investments, upgrade networks, and purchase devices.

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