WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department would be awarding $4.2 million to Tribal communities in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and Wisconsin in order for them to build broadband infrastructure and increase connectivity on Tribal lands. The Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3.2 million grant to the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Towaoc, Colorado, to construct broadband infrastructure; and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is awarding nearly $1 million to Tribes Arizona and Wisconsin to expand broadband connectivity.

“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.”

EDA's project will provide high-speed internet service connecting the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation and the city of Towaoc to Cortez, increasing access to distance learning and telemedicine, supporting public safety, and allowing for entrepreneurial business growth across the reservation and region. This EDA investment is expected to create 33 jobs and generate $550,000 in private investment. 

NTIA's awards will go to the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Arizona and the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Wisconsin to fund tribal broadband planning projects. NTIA has now made a total of five awards totaling about $2.4 million in funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will announce additional awards on a rolling basis as they go through NTIA's review process. 

The funds provided by today's awards will complement previous funding awarded by the EDA and 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. The $48 billion is being allocated to NTIA to create more low-cost broadband service options, subsidize the cost of service for low-income households, and address our communities' digital equity and inclusion needs.

Source: Press Release
Wednesday, December 22, 2021
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