Tribal

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced ReConnect program broadband grants for two tribal areas.

A grant of $22.3 million will enable deployment of a FTTP network to benefit 1,988 people, 12 businesses and 100 farms in the Choctaw Tribal Statistical Area and socially vulnerable communities in Le Flore County, Oklahoma.

A grant of $34.7 million will be used to deploy a FTTP network to provide high-speed internet benefiting 3,322 people, 47 businesses, 55 farms and seven educational facilities in the Pine Ridge Land Area Representation and Bennett and Oglala Lakota counties in South Dakota.

“When we invest in modern infrastructure for people who live in tribal communities, we create a ripple effect that impacts everyone,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “USDA is committed to building our economy from the middle out and bottom up by bringing high-speed internet, clean water and critical infrastructure to people in small towns and communities everywhere, especially in places that have been underserved for far too long.”

Participation in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program is a prerequisite for both grants. However, that program is set to start winding down if it does not receive additional funding from Congress.

The administration has granted awards totaling $1.1 billion to 57 tribal communities through the ReConnect Program, according to USDA.

The Department of Agriculture is not the only governmental agency providing funding to tribal communities. Last September, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded more than $74.4 million in grants to 28 tribal entities as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP).

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