The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe in Virginia and the Sokaogon Chippewa Community Wisconsin the first three grants under the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.
The three grants total nearly $1.4 million. Two of the first three grants awarded will support the provision of broadband services, computers and digital skills training to tribal members and one will fund a tribal broadband planning project.
The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program has received more than 280 applications seeking more than $5 billion in funding. The program makes $980 million available for grants to eligible Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entities for broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth and distance learning. The recently adopted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides an additional $2 billion in funding for this program. NTIA expects to issue a new notice of funding opportunity for the additional funds.
NTIA is continuing to review the remaining applications. Other awards will be announced on a rolling basis.
“The strong demand for Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program grants underscores the broadband inequities that Native communities and their people face and the need for creative solutions, partnerships and support in closing their digital divide,” said Evelyn Remaley, acting NTIA administrator, in a prepared statement. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact of today’s awards in tribal communities, and the broadband success of future awardees as they merge together the cultural, educational, medical, and economic fiber critical to closing the digital divide.”
“Indian country has been left out of critical investments in broadband infrastructure for far too long,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “Today’s awards will provide a range of benefits to tribes, including providing tribal members with Internet connectivity, devices, resources to fund broadband capacity and needs planning, as well as digital skills needed to thrive in the 21st century.”