PHOENIX, AZ – This week, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez joined U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in Phoenix, AZ, as she announced that the Biden-Harris Administration has awarded the Navajo Nation over $50 million through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), to fund high-speed internet infrastructure deployment projects on the Navajo Nation.
Under President Nez, the Navajo Nation Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Office worked with Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and technical experts to compile broadband infrastructure projects that were submitted to NTIA for consideration. In January, President Nez also advocated for the funding during a consultation session with NTIA and in virtual meetings with Secretary Ramondo. With the announcement, each of the 63 projects that were submitted by the Navajo Nation were fully funded.
“We have a seat at the table with the Biden-Harris administration,” said President Nez. “Through our discussions with President Biden, Secretary Raimondo, and NTIA, we were successful in demonstrating the need for increased broadband connectivity to support our students, first responders, businesses, and families. This funding will help the Navajo Nation to build on the success that we’ve had with expanding broadband through the CARES Act and the recently approved American Rescue Plan Act funds. We are building a stronger nation for future generations.”
Secretary Raimondo was joined by U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Congressmen Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and Greg Stanton (D-AZ) as they announced awards totaling over $105 million in broadband funding for five Arizona tribes including the Navajo Nation, White Mountain Apache Tribe, San Carlos Apache Tribe, Hopi Tribe, and Pascua Yaqui Tribe.
According to NTIA, 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 awards announced were 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.
Among the improvements, the $50 million will fund 11 new telecommunications towers, 204 miles of new fiber and installations, wireless broadband equipment, new LTE carriers and expansion, backbone upgrades, and increase or connect high-speed internet to over 27,000 homes on the Navajo Nation.
“This month the Biden-Harris administration demonstrated that tribal communities will not be left behind in connecting their communities to affordable and reliable high-speed internet,” said Secretary Raimondo. “Direct investment into tribal communities is a crucial step in closing the digital divide in Indian Country while protecting local customs and traditions and creating new opportunities for global engagement and growth.”
In addition, through the American Rescue Plan Act, President Nez and the 24th Navajo Nation Council approved $120 million for broadband development in July. The Nez-Lizer Administration, through the Navajo Nation Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Office, continues to work with county, state, and federal agencies to apply for more grant funding and to coordinate the development of broadband infrastructure on the Navajo Nation.