WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) have announced an agreement to coordinate responsibilities in ensuring compliance with environmental, historic preservation, and cultural resources requirements related to the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP).
This collaboration allows high-speed internet service to be deployed quickly while also ensuring safeguards to protect Native lands and interests. Additionally, it streamlines the National Environmental Policy Act reviews for both NTIA, as the lead federal agency for high-speed internet grant programs, and BIA, as authorized to grant rights-of-way over and across land held in trust or restricted status by the United States under the Indian Right-of-Way Act.
“Tribal communities are long overdue to gain access to life-saving technologies, economic and educational opportunities, and countless other benefits of high-speed internet,” said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Alan Davidson. “We are streamlining and creating efficiencies within the federal government to ensure tribal communities get the resources they need quickly to close the digital divide on tribal lands.”
“This agreement will advance our work to connect people in tribal communities with high-speed internet, while ensuring the preservation of environmental, historic, and cultural resources,” said Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will expand opportunities for people to live safe, healthy and fulfilling lives in their Tribal communities.”
The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, part of President Biden’s Internet for All Initiative, offers grants to eligible Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entities for high-speed internet deployment, digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning. NTIA announced that it has allocated $1 billion in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law toward the Notice of Funding Opportunity announced in June 2021, making the total available for high-speed internet grants now $1.98 billion.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, provides $65 billion investment to expand high-speed internet in communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost high-speed internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.