Office of U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06)
Yesterday, U.S. Representative Derek Kilmer (WA-06) applauded the announcement by Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland that nearly $1 billion in U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grants will be made available to expand broadband access on Tribal lands through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP).
The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and created by the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, will provide funding to expand broadband on tribal lands — deploying broadband infrastructure, establishing affordable broadband programs, and supporting digital inclusion across Indian Country to lessen the digital divide.
“For far too long, Native American tribes in our region and across the country have struggled to connect to high-speed, affordable, reliable broadband internet,” said Rep. Kilmer. “Today’s announcement by the Biden Administration of new federal investment in Indian Country is huge — and will help tribes compete for new economic opportunities, empower students to learn, and bridge the digital divide across the board.”
“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 National Telecommunications and Information Administration Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “National Telecommunications and Information Administration will leverage its deep experience with funding broadband programs to ensure that we make significant progress in eliminating the digital divide on tribal land.”
The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will focus on connecting tribal communities that have the greatest needs when it comes to basic broadband services. Despite the increasing necessity of broadband access, more than 20% of people living on tribal lands still lack broadband service availability at home. Infrastructure grants are also intended to fuel job growth on tribal lands. Tribal projects through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program are intended to be built and maintained by a tribal workforce and inspire culturally appropriate practices that promote the rich culture and traditions of each Tribe. Through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, National Telecommunications and Information Administration will also aim to promote workforce development by supporting tribal employment rights offices (TERO) and enforcement of tribally approved tribal employment rights offices policies.
In addition, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will fund programs designed to make broadband affordable for tribal families, including those that provide free or reduced-cost service. There is no matching funds requirement for tribes to apply for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.
More information about the program, including requirements for grant applications, can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity published today on grants.gov. National Telecommunications and Information Administration 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.