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Two programs operated by the Department of Commerce have awarded grants totaling more than $4 million to three tribal organizations.

Two of the grants are through the department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which was funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The third is through the department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity grants, which total almost $1 million, are for two feasibility and planning studies. The Yavapai-Apache Nation (Camp Verde, AZ) will receive $500,000 to investigate ways to bring broadband services to 2,500 of its residents. The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (Stone Lake, WI) will receive $442,734 to study ways to bring broadband to approximately 40% of residents currently without access to broadband. The applications made it through a three-step process to secure the grants.

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NTIA has now made a total of five awards totaling about $2.4 million in funding through the program. Further funding announcements will be made on a rolling basis.

The EDA grant is for $3.2 million. It will be used to construct broadband for the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of Towaoc, Colorado.

“Internet access means more than just opening emails and checking social media. It means having access to life-saving technologies, economic opportunities, remote learning, and countless other essential benefits,” Department of Congress Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a press release about the tribal broadband grants. Current funding programs, she said, help ensure that “Tribal communities, and unserved and underserved communities across the country, have the resources they need to thrive in the 21st century.”

In September, the NTIA said that the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program had attracted more than 280 applications during its 90-day funding period that ended on September 1. The applicants collectively sought more than $5 billion. The program is funded at $980 million.

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