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American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island, and the U.S. Virgin Islands’ Digital Equity Plan Accepted

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 25, 2024
News Media Contact
NTIA, Office of Public Affairs

WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has accepted Digital Equity plans from American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The Digital Equity Act, part of the Internet for All initiative and a key piece of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, provides $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs that promote digital equity and inclusion. The program aims to ensure that all people and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy.  

Each territory received $150,000 from the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program to create a plan aimed at addressing disparities in digital access, skills and affordability across the state.  

NTIA has now accepted digital equity plans from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories. On March 29, 2024, NTIA launched the $1.44 billion Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program. Under the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), states and territories can apply for funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to begin implementation of their accepted digital equity plans.

In the coming months, NTIA will launch the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program, which will make funds available to a variety of entities, including (for example) some political subdivisions of states, native entities, nonprofits, community anchor institutions, local educational agencies, workforce development organizations, as well as territories.

"I am incredibly proud to announce that the NTIA has accepted the CNMI's Digital Equity Action Plan. This achievement underscores our dedication to closing the digital divide and ensuring all residents have access to the tools and skills necessary to thrive in the digital age,” said CNMI Governor Arnold I. Palacios. “Guided by the CNMI Broadband Policy and Development Office and supported by our local stakeholders and federal partners, we have crafted a plan that will enhance the foundation necessary for a vibrant digital economy. This plan promises to drive growth, foster innovation, and improve the quality of life for everyone in our community. Thank you to everyone involved for helping us take this crucial step towards a more connected and prosperous future." 

“This approval from the NTIA is a significant step forward for Guam,” said Guam Acting Governor Joshua Tenorio. “Our Digital Equity Plan is designed to address the unique challenges faced by our community in accessing digital resources. Many of our residents still don’t have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet access. Even more people either can't afford it or lack the necessary skills to use it. The gap between those with internet access and those without is significant. With the financial support now available, we are poised to make significant strides in ensuring that all residents have the tools and opportunities they need to thrive in a digital world.” 

“We are glad to learn that our Digital Equity plan has been approved. We are grateful to our stakeholders and those in our community who contributed to this effort,” said American Samoa Director of Commerce Ms. Petti Matila. “We are looking forward to the implementation phase as there is a great deal of work to be done to ensure our people have the necessary tools and skills needed to leverage the power of and opportunities created by broadband and the internet. Fa’afetai tele lava!” 

“This is an exciting first step in laying the foundation for a more digitally resilient Territory,” said U.S. Virgin Islands Director of Digital Equity and Inclusion, Jaughna Nielsen-Bobbit. “This plan was not developed in a vacuum, and we are grateful to the local community stakeholders, mainland digital equity partners, and to the NTIA for their expertise, time, and support in creating a blueprint for the U.S. Virgin Islands to address the digital divide here in the Territory. Being disconnected from a connected world is not new to us, so it is crucial that we are strategically investing in our community to ensure that Virgin Islanders have access to the same digital resources, knowledge, and skills as our fellow Americans who reside on the mainland U.S.”

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About the National Telecommunications and Information Administration    

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policymaking focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, advancing public safety communications, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth. 

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