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Department of Commerce’s NTIA Awards Additional $1M in Grants to Tribal Groups Seeking to Expand Broadband

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
December 22, 2021

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WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today it has awarded two additional grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These grants, totaling nearly $1 million, are being awarded to the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Arizona and the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin.

The awards will be for feasibility and planning studies to determine the best way to provide broadband services to reach 2,500 members of the Yavapai-Apache Nation and the approximately 40% of Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians with no internet service available to them. NTIA has now made a total of five awards totaling about $2.4 million in funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. NTIA will announce additional program awards on a rolling basis as they go through our review process.

“Too many Americans, especially those living on reservations and in Tribal communities, lack reliable, high-speed broadband—if they are even lucky enough to have internet at all. In our increasingly interconnected world, internet is not a luxury, it is a necessity, and this basic lack of access is an injustice,” said Secretary Raimondo. “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. The awards presented today build upon the broadband funding provided by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and reaffirm this administration’s commitment to ensuring that Tribal communities, and unserved and underserved communities across the country, have the resources they need to thrive in the 21st century.”

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. The recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides an additional $2 billion in funding for this program.  

“The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program plays an integral part in our mission to help close the digital divide and expand internet access to tribal communities who have lacked it for so long,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “The amount of funding being issued demonstrates the immediate need for broadband infrastructure investments within tribal lands. We look forward to partnering with today’s awardees as we work to close the digital divide and expand broadband access to all.”

Today, the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) also announced it would be awarding a $3.2 million grant to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Towaoc, Colorado, to construct broadband infrastructure.

The funds provided by today’s awards will complement previous funding awarded by the EDA, as well as NTIA’s other broadband programs. These programs will also help lay the groundwork for the funding provided by President Biden’s recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This law provides $65 billion to expand broadband in communities across the U.S., with $48 billion being allocated to NTIA to create more low-cost broadband service options, subsidize the cost of service for low-income households, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.

Additional broadband funding may be available through the Department of Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Funds. The BroadbandUSA Federal Funding Guide also compiles federal funding opportunities for expanding and improving broadband access. More information about the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program can be found on the BroadbandUSA website.

Applicant Location Type of Project Funding Amount Brief Description
Yavapai-Apache Nation Camp Verde, Ariz. Planning $500,000.00 This planning study will generate plans and recommendations in establishing the best and most cost-effective approach to update and expand broadband connectivity for the Yavapai-Apache Nation. The plan will leverage experts in broadband operations, engineering, and design to develop and document a sustainable and feasible plan for future infrastructure deployment.
Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Stone Lake, Wis. Planning $442,734.00 This planning study will complete a detailed feasibility analysis and broadband design to determine the best way to provide broadband services to its government facilities, business enterprises, and its unserved housing units located on the Reservation.