WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today that it has received more than 280 applications for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, for a total of over $5 billion in funding requests. The volume of requests demonstrates the significant need to expand access to and adoption of broadband service on tribal lands.
NTIA has begun reviewing the applications as part of the $980 million grant program, which was funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Grants will be made available to eligible Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entities for broadband deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning. The program’s 90-day application window closed on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
“The COVID-19 pandemic brought the need for affordable accessible broadband access on tribal lands into stark relief,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This program’s nearly $1 billion in funding is an important step forward in closing the digital divide for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities, but it will take an even greater investment to help fully connect every person in every community. That is why we need the historic investments proposed by President Biden and included in the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill to build out our nation’s broadband infrastructure and make affordable, accessible Internet a reality for every community across the country.”
“The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program’s flexibility underscores our commitment to working with tribal governments and organizations to close the digital divide for all Native people,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “NTIA congratulates all eligible entities for their in-depth and detailed proposals aimed at meeting the broadband deployment and digital equity needs of their respective communities.”
To raise awareness of the program and guide prospective applicants, NTIA facilitated 13 hours of tribal consultations and performed extensive outreach including more than 50 regional tribal presentations, 10 webinars for prospective applicants, and engagement at the individual tribal and consortia level.
NTIA will thoroughly and objectively review applications using a three-stage process: Initial Administrative and Eligibility Review of Applications, Merit Review, and Programmatic Review. Reviewers will evaluate applications according to the criteria provided in Section E of the Notice of Funding Opportunity.
Additional federal broadband funding opportunities are available, including funds available through the Department of Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Funds. The BroadbandUSA Federal Funding Guide compiles federal funding opportunities for expanding and improving broadband access. More information about the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity and on the BroadbandUSA website.