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NTIA awards $7.7 million in tribal broadband grants

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it has awarded nine grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These grants, totaling more than $7.7 million, are being awarded in six states – Alaska, California, Louisiana, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Washington.

These grants will fund projects that promote high-speed internet use and adoption that will enable communities to access and fully utilize resources that will connect them to education, healthcare, employment and more. The funds can also be used to conduct planning, engineering, feasibility, and sustainability projects and to expand digital inclusion, workforce, and digital skills development.

For example, Pawnee Nation College in Oklahoma, where NTIA Senior Representative for Broadband Andy Berke will be visiting today, will be establishing a student technology grant and computer lab on its campus. This computer lab will increase campus-wide internet services and equipment and expand the digital communications curriculum. Meanwhile, the Suquamish Tribe of Port Madison Reservation in Washington, is using its grant to develop workforce training and digital literacy programs aimed at increasing digital inclusion among Tribal members.

“The pandemic demonstrated just how difficult it is to participate in our modern economy without access to reliable high-speed internet. These grants will provide crucial resources to tribal communities working to ensure everyone can use the internet to attend classes, visit a doctor or run a business,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “We look forward to supporting these Tribal Nations in building capacity and expanding their communities’ access to the internet.

“Across the country, Tribal Nations have been disconnected from essential internet services for far too long,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “These awards will allow Tribal communities to provide the necessary resources their members need to thrive in our evolving digital economy.”

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which was funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, 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.  

NTIA has now made a total of 43 awards totaling more than $91 million in funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These awards are part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to nation-to-nation engagement and an effort to connect everyone in America, including American Indians and Alaskan Natives, with affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. More information on these awards is provided below. 

NTIA received more than 300 applications during the application window, which closed on Sept. 1, 2021. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will announce additional awards on a rolling basis as they move through NTIA’s review process.  

President Biden’s recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides an additional $2 billion in funding for this program, as part of a historic $65 billion investment to expand broadband in communities across the U.S. Using resources provided by the law, NTIA has launched a series of new broadband grant programs that will build broadband infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost broadband service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities. 

CT Bureau

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