Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program
The goal of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) $40+ billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program is to ensure that everyone in the United States has access to reliable, high-speed, and affordable broadband. Part of the challenge is how to treat areas where funding already has been awarded for broadband deployment. Will all awardees perform as expected?
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded 28 grants totaling $74,424,986.73 to 28 Tribal entities as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). Grants were made to tribes in Alaska, Arizona, California, Michigan, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 8.3 million households lack access to high-speed broadband. Providing universal access to communications service—initially voice service and now broadband—has always been a challenge in the United States. Although connecting urban, populated areas is relatively easy, serving sparsely populated rural areas is difficult due to differences in terrain and population density.
The cost of connecting Nebraska’s Winnebago Tribe reservation with fiber-optic cable could average $53,000 for each household and workplace connected. That amount exceeds the assessed value of some of the homes getting hookups, property records show.
Tribes are using digital equity funds to do amazing work toward closing the digital divide. Every time we talk to Tribes about digital equity, they have great ideas about how to incorporate digital inclusion in their communities, but they always ask the same question – “Where’s the money for that?” To prepare Tribes for upcoming funding, here’s an overview of existing and forthcoming funding that can help Tribes fund similar programs in their community:
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $3.5 Million in Internet for All Grants to Tribal Lands
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded seven grants totaling $3,449,227.56 to seven Tribal entities as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). With funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, these new grants bring the total of the program to more than $1.79 billion awarded to 198 Tribal entities. Record investments in high-speed Internet deployment are a key part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.
I am the Secretary of Commerce. And my job is to make sure that America can compete that our businesses and our companies can compete effectively in the world, including our small businesses, our family farms, and Americans, American workers. And I have to tell you, you cannot compete if you don't have the Internet. I just talked to a third-generation family farmer here in Wisconsin who struggles because the Internet is expensive and doesn't have high quality, and you all know it. You all have friends and family who don't have it.
Tribal Broadband Funding in a Time of Opportunity: How to Find Funding and Build Successful Partnerships
There has never been a better moment for Tribal Nations to bring broadband to their members. The federal and state funds earmarked for broadband expansion are at truly historic levels, as the US government seeks to make access to broadband a reality for even the most remote rural communities (as it did for electricity in the 20th century).
The Ocean State has long supported expanding broadband access, adoption and application for its residents. Capitalizing on funding from the COVID-19 pandemic, Rhode Island established programs to keep kids in school, enable aging residents to take advantage of online resources, and bolster state opportunities in tech. “During the pandemic, households had increased reliance on broadband connections as access became essential for employment, education and daily activities,” said Governor Dan McKee (D-RI).
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $1 Billion in New Internet for All Funding Available to Tribal Lands
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the availability of nearly $1 billion in funding to expand Internet access and adoption on Tribal Lands. This second round of funding from the Internet for All initiative’s Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP) will make up to approximately $980 million available for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities for the deployment of Internet infras