Biden-Harris Administration Awards $18.9 Million To Expand High-Speed Internet Access on Tribal Lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The  Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration  (NTIA)  has awarded an $18.9 million Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program grant to the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada (ITCN) as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Internet for All” initiative. 

The grant will fund high-speed internet infrastructure deployment, use, and adoption projects to improve connectivity across tribal lands. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, makes funding available for grants to eligible Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entities for high-speed internet deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning. 

The announcement is part of a $500 million total that is going to tribal applicants this month.

During a press call announcing the historic investments, Vice President Kamala Harris said, “Our administration’s vision is to connect all Native communities with the internet and with the opportunity that comes along with access to affordable internet – the opportunity to live healthier, happier, and more prosperous lives.  And we will continue to fight every day to make that vision a reality.”

“High-speed internet helps people stay connected, allows businesses to thrive, and gives communities the opportunity to stay informed,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Closing the digital divide in Indian Country is a crucial step for protecting local customs and traditions while invigorating the opportunities for global engagement and growth. The announcements we are making this month are an exciting step on the journey.” 

“I’ve worked throughout my time in the Senate to help Nevadans get access to quality broadband, which is essential for families and businesses alike,” said Catherine Cortez Masto, U.S. Senator for Nevada. “I’m glad to see this award go to support broadband access for tribes in the Silver State, and I’ll continue my work on this critical issue.” 

“In the past two years, we have seen plainly and repeatedly just how important equitable access to high-speed, reliable internet and a connected device is for work, education, healthcare, and civic participation,” said Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. “We cannot and will not leave any community behind as we work to close the digital divide. I am proud that my Office of Science, Innovation and Technology partnered closely with the Inter-Tribal Council to successfully submit for these funds.”  

“This $18.9 million grant to the Inter-Tribal Council of Nevada is another example of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law delivering results for Nevada and supporting the needs of over 970 Native American households,” said Congresswoman Dina Titus (NV-01). “As Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I was proud to help shape this legislation which is now deploying more broadband infrastructure to all corners of our state. These high-speed connections will enable increased participation in the 21st-century economy, and provide access to healthcare and educational opportunities.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed a huge equity concern when it came to access to affordable and reliable internet service,” said Deserea Quintana, Executive Director for ITCN.  “Nevada tribal members lacked access to critical emergency updates, public safety announcements, telehealth services, telecommuting solutions, and remote learning opportunities. This funding will significantly improve the quality of life for our tribal members and is long overdue.” 

NTIA has now made over 64 awards totaling more than $620 million in funding through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. The awards are part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to nation-to-nation engagement and an effort to connect everyone in America, including American Indians and Natives, with affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.  

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is a nearly $3 billion grant program and part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative. The award announced was part of nearly $1 billion made available in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law appropriated an additional $2 billion for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson recently announced that NTIA has added $1 billion of that funding to the existing funding opportunity, meaning the administration can fund more of the projects that already submitted applications. An additional Notice of Funding Opportunity for the remaining funds will be announced later in 2022, and NTIA will hold listening sessions with tribal leaders in September to solicit their input.