US government provides $77 million in funding for tribal broadband
US government provides $77 million in funding for tribal broadband. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Programme, which was launched in the summer of 2021, is a $980 million initiative directed by tribal governments that offer to fund the implementation of broadband infrastructure on tribal grounds, as well as to improve access to digital learning opportunities and telemedicine.
Grant applicants had until September 2021 to apply, and the program received over 280 responses. Ironically, several tribal activists protested to the Senate at the start of 2022 that they did not have the broadband connectivity required to qualify for the financing scheme.
Nonetheless, the NTIA has been steadily assessing these submissions since late 2021, frequently revealing funding allocations in groups. So yet, these allocations have been modest, totaling roughly $6 million for a variety of programs.
The first large influx of funding
This week, however, represents the first large influx of funding, with the NTIA granting 19 grants totaling over $77 million. The awards will benefit communities in ten states, with programs aimed at increasing internet usage and implementing initiatives to promote healthcare, employment development, education, housing, and social services in indigenous communities.
US government provides $77 million in funding for tribal broadband. The Alaska Federation of Natives has received by far the greatest of these funds. The project proposes a consortium of 73 Alaska Native Tribal governments, Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs), and tribal organizations to reduce barriers to broadband usage among Native Alaskans by providing broadband-enabled devices, subsidizing broadband service, and implementing digital skills and workforce training totaling more than $35 million. It will also strive to increase tribal health care access by providing Alaska tribal health partners with the technology and training required to provide telehealth services.
33 awards totaling over $83 million in investment
So far, the NTIA has given 33 awards totaling over $83 million in investment.
“For far too long, tribal communities have been excluded from the benefits of high-speed internet and the attendant economic benefits.” The internet is a necessary tool for participating in our modern economy, from running a business to taking online classes to schedule a doctor’s appointment, and it’s an absolute injustice that this resource has been denied to so many Native Americans across our country,” said US Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo.
Tribes from Alaska to Rhode Island
“This essential investment will provide Tribes from Alaska to Rhode Island, and many areas in between, with an affordable, high-speed internet connection, boosting access to telemedicine, distant learning, and workforce development.” The grants announced today underscore the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to ensuring that Tribal communities, as well as unserved and underprivileged communities in every state and territory, have the resources they require and deserve to prosper in our increasingly digital economy.”
US government provides $77 million in funding for tribal broadband. The newly approved Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will invest $65 billion in broadband financing throughout the country, will provide an extra $2 billion to the TBCP.
95.6 percent of the US population has access to fixed broadband services
Extending internet connection to tribal communities in the United States is a significant task. While the Federal Communications Commission reported that 95.6 percent of the US population has access to fixed broadband services in 2019, that figure drops to 79.1 percent in tribal territories.
In addition to having limited access to technology, the data reveals that there is a significant barrier to acceptance of these services, with just 46.5 percent of tribal families using accessible internet services.
Clearly, considerable work has to be done in connecting tribal communities, and with over $2.9 billion remainings, the scale of government support through the TBCP must speed swiftly if it is to have a substantial influence on the US’s expanding digital divide.