Representatives from the Biden Administration have announced availability of $1 billion in Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The tribal program was funded through the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which also funded other broadband programs, including $3.2 billion for an Emergency Broadband Benefit program. These programs aim to support communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by helping improve access to broadband.
Grants under the tribal program are available to eligible Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian entities for broadband deployment as well as for digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth and distance learning.
NTIA is looking for infrastructure projects to expand broadband availability on Tribal lands by deploying broadband infrastructure to unserved households, as required by the Act. The program also is seeking related proposals for broadband and digital inclusion, telehealth, education, training staff and providing technical support and capacity building for Tribal institutions.
More information will be available through the next Tribal Broadband Connectivity webinars June 16 and 17.
“These investments will help many Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian communities gain long overdue access to life-saving technologies, economic opportunities, remote learning and countless other benefits,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, in a prepared statement. about the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Fund. “This funding is an important step forward, but we cannot stop here. Access to broadband is as essential as electricity to our everyday life. Under President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, we will have the resources to deploy high-quality broadband infrastructure to every Tribal community.”
“For generations, a lack of infrastructure investment in Indian Country has left Tribes further behind in the digital divide than most areas of the country,” added Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, in a prepared statement. “We have a responsibility as a country to build infrastructure that will fuel economic development, keep communities safe, and ensure everyone has opportunities to succeed. Today’s announcement marks a major stepping stone in the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to an all-of-government approach to ensure the federal government lives up to its responsibilities to Tribal communities.”