Native American Students in Classroom with Teacher

Verizon is planning to provide enhanced connectivity for 80 Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools operated by Native American tribes on 64 tribal reservations in 13 states.

Verizon expects its investment to provide reliable, high-speed internet service and connected devices for thousands of students. The work is designed to complement BIE’s mission to provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in accordance with a tribe’s needs for cultural and economic well-being.

The carrier had previously upgraded more than 100 sites from legacy “T1.5s to 100MBsites, according to a press release. The work was awarded via the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Networx contract.

The plans announced today are expected to provide access to 1 Gbps internet connections through an extension of Verizon’s existing Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS) task order.

“A quality, high-bandwidth connection is critical for students to be able to learn from wherever they are – especially in more remote areas,” said Maggie Hallbach, Verizon public sector senior vice president, in a prepared statement. “We believe this is a fundamental right for all students, and by upgrading the technology and infrastructure across these tribal lands, including many with Gigabit connections, we’re helping BIE with its mission to enable a more comprehensive learning experience, preparing these students for the future.”

Carriers have become more involved in bringing broadband to Native American communities ever since the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) attracted more than 280 applications seeking more than $5 billion in funding last fall.

The awards themselves are being granted on a rolling basis. Among the most recent awards were grants totaling $77 million for tribal communities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington and nine grants totaling approximately $7.7 million awarded to tribal groups in six states.

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