Tribal Broadband Funding in a Time of Opportunity

Whitepaper on tribal broadband funding

Indigenous communities continue to face some of the greatest broadband deficiencies in the United States. A 2021 study showed that only 67% of Tribal Lands and Reservations in the U.S. have access to broadband, and many people living in those communities do not have what the FCC calls a “minimally acceptable” connection. Further, the fact that many Tribal Lands are in remote rural areas makes bringing broadband to these communities a unique challenge.

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program

When the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA)— informally known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—was passed, it established the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. Administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program has set aside   $3 billion “to be used for broadband deployment on Tribal Lands, as well as for telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion.” Since the establishment of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, funds have been allocated to various Native American communities around the country (see, for example, the August 2022 announcement of $105 million in grants to various Tribal Nations).

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