Expanding Broadband on Tribal Lands

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Department of Commerce’s NTIA Announces Nearly $1 Billion in Funding to Expand Broadband on Tribal Land

(Source: https://www.commerce.gov/news/fact-sheets/2021/06/fact-sheet-biden-administration-offers-nearly-1-billion-grants-help

Operation Lady Justice would like to share the below announcement about a funding opportunity that may be able to assist Tribes with high-speed internet. Broadband access can be critical in assisting Tribes that are considering utilizing the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) to issue public alerts and warnings, such as Missing Person alerts or Health Safety alerts, to their jurisdiction. IPAWS allows tribes the capability to deliver a single alert simultaneously through multiple communication pathways, reaching as many people as possible to save lives and protect property. High-speed internet access is also required for Tribes to participate in the Tribal Access Program (TAP), which can provide Tribal law enforcement agencies access to report missing persons in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.

WASHINGTON – Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced at the White House the availability of nearly $1 billion in U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grants to expand broadband access and adoption on Tribal land. The leaders called for significant broadband investments in the American Jobs Plan to make affordable high-speed internet available to all Americans. Secretary Haaland joined the announcement remotely.

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Grants will be made available to eligible Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian entities for broadband deployment as well as for digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth and distance learning.

“These investments will help many Native American, Alaskan Native and Native Hawaiian communities gain long overdue access to life-saving technologies, economic opportunities, remote learning and countless other benefits,” said Secretary Raimondo. “This funding is an important step forward, but we cannot stop here. Access to broadband is as essential as electricity to our everyday life. Under President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, we will have the resources to deploy high-quality broadband infrastructure to every Tribal community.”

“For generations, a lack of infrastructure investment in Indian Country has left Tribes further behind in the digital divide than most areas of the country,” said Secretary Haaland. “We have a responsibility as a country to build infrastructure that will fuel economic development, keep communities safe, and ensure everyone has opportunities to succeed. Today’s announcement marks a major stepping stone in the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to an all-of-government approach to ensure the federal government lives up to its responsibilities to Tribal communities.”

“We are excited to continue our work with Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian communities to make this program a success,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “NTIA will leverage its deep experience with funding broadband programs to ensure that we make significant progress in eliminating the digital divide on Tribal land.”

NTIA is seeking infrastructure projects that expand the availability of broadband services on Tribal lands and prioritize deploying broadband infrastructure to unserved households, as required by the Act. The program also invites proposals that address the digital divide on Tribal lands, including broadband and digital inclusion planning, telehealth, education, training staff and Tribal community members, and providing technical support and capacity building for Tribal institutions.

More information about the program, including requirements for grant applications, can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity published today on grants.gov. NTIA is also holding a series of webinars to further inform the public about the program. The next Tribal Broadband Connectivity webinars will be held on June 16 and 17.

Read the Fact Sheet on the announcement online.