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Introducing the Tribal Broadband Planning Toolkit

May 10, 2022 by NTIA

A successful broadband project begins with a broadband plan, one that lays out the goals and path forward to enhance internet access and meaningful use within a target area or community. But there are many moving pieces involved in creating a broadband plan. BroadbandUSA’s Tribal Broadband Planning Toolkit aims to simplify the process for tribes. It provides the guidance, knowledge, and resources to design, implement, and then execute a broadband plan in tribal communities.

While this toolkit can be used at any time and for any broadband planning purpose – for NTIA or other programs – it comes at an especially opportune time: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) allocated an additional $2 billion and relaxed some of the program requirements to the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.

The toolkit outlines seven, common elements that serve as the building blocks of a tribal broadband plan. Designed for interactive use, each element has a dedicated worksheet and a tab in an accompanying, downloadable Excel-based template. The elements are:

  • Assemble a Team: Build a team with the skills needed to accomplish your broadband goals.
  • Determine Your Priorities: Create a set of priorities to help your community build or expand meaningful access to broadband.
  • Explore the Data: Measure current broadband availability and use in your community.
  • Build Relationships for Success: Identify partners to engage throughout the broadband planning process.
  • Select the Right Solutions: Determine the specific methods to use to reach your broadband goals.
  • Prepare a Budget: Set a budget for the various expenses included in your broadband plan.
  • Chart a Path Forward: Develop a project plan to guide execution of your broadband plan.

Some highlights of this new toolkit and tips for using it:

It includes an accompanying, ready-to-use Tribal Broadband Plan template. A key part of the toolkit is the Excel-based template that users can download and use to build out their broadband plans. This template is a complement to the worksheets, which provide information for each element of the journey. Users can fill in the template as they read through the corresponding worksheets to get an immediate start on forming their plan.

It can be used in any order. There is no one-size-fits all approach to planning, so tribes can use the toolkit according to their community’s specific needs. Some might choose to focus on certain elements, while other tribes might focus on different elements.

It can serve as a companion throughout the broadband planning journey. The planning process can be a long one, and it might evolve along the way. As users make their way through their own broadband planning journey, they can refer back to the toolkit for reference and guidance.

Beyond the seven elements that form the basis for the worksheets and the spreadsheet template, the toolkit also includes a guide to help communities assess their strengths, a broadband planning checklist, and a list of key terms and resources.

The new Tribal Broadband Planning Toolkit aims to further NTIA’s commitment to increase broadband Internet access across America, including among tribal nations. Tribes can use this resource to be better prepared to design, implement, and maintain broadband plans in their communities.

For more information about NTIA’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity or other grant programs, please visit our Grants Overview page.