Five tribal communities were recently awarded a total of $146 million for broadband projects, marking the beginning of efforts to bridge the digital divide among Tribal Nations.
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has launched the second round of grant funding through the Internet for All initiative’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.
This program aims to expand internet access and adoption on Tribal Lands, with approximately $980 million in funding available for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities.
The program, funded by President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, seeks to enhance the quality of life, promote economic development, and create opportunities for remote employment, online entrepreneurship, remote learning, and telehealth.
By expanding broadband access and providing digital training and inclusion programs, the program aims to address the longstanding digital divide that has disproportionately affected Tribal communities.
Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, Alan Davidson, acknowledged the significance of the program in addressing the disparities faced by Tribal communities. During the first round of funding, $1.78 billion was awarded to 191 Tribal entities since 2021, benefiting various regions including Arizona and New Mexico.
The current application process is open to eligible entities such as Tribal governments, Tribal colleges or universities, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, Tribal organizations, and Alaska Native corporations.
Funding from the program must be utilized for broadband infrastructure deployment, including the development of affordable broadband programs and preventing disconnection of existing broadband service.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration anticipates a wide range of grant amounts for this round of funding. For broadband internet infrastructure deployment projects proposed by a single applicant, funding can range from $1 million to $50 million.
Similarly, broadband internet adoption and use projects can receive funding ranging from $100,000 to $2.5 million. Although these ranges are not required minimums or maximums, applicants seeking funding outside of these ranges must provide a reasonable explanation for the variance in project size.
Eligible entities have until January 2024 to apply for the program, and the administration will conduct a three-stage review process to evaluate applications. More information about the grant process can be found on the Internet for All website.
With this significant funding opportunity, tribal communities are poised to benefit from improved access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet service. The program aims to empower these communities by facilitating their participation in telehealth, online education, remote work, and other opportunities that internet access brings.
With this significant funding opportunity, Tribal communities are poised to benefit from improved access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet service. The program aims to empower these communities by facilitating their participation in telehealth, online education, remote work, and other opportunities that internet access brings.